A study to determine pregnant women's knowledge attitudes and practices towards prematurity in macha-choma

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Mbuzi, Maulao Stephen
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The University of Zambia
Infant mortality continues to be a major concern in Zambia with most causes being preventable. One of the major causes of infant mortality is prematurity which could be prevented. Most interventions to combat infant mortality focus on treating or preventing childhood diseases rather than problems occurring in mothers before and during pregnancy. Infant mortality is an important social health indicator of the country's performance in the socio-economic and health system. This expresses the need for the government to prioritise maternal and child health in order to prevent prematurity.The main objective of the study was to determine the knowledge, attitudes and practices of pregnant women towards prematurity in Macha catchment area of Choma District in Southern Province.The literature review was from different scholars and it looked at the global, regional and national perspectives. This was based on a number of factors for example service related factors, socio- cultural related factors, economy related factors and disease related factors and their influence on pregnant women's knowledge, attitudes and practices towards prematurity.The study used non-experimental, exploratory, qualitative and quantitative method. A pilot study was done at Macha Hospital Antenatal Clinic between August and September 2004. The research subjects were fifty (50) pregnant women selected randomly as they attended antenatal clinic. Data were collected using a structured interview schedule from the selected subjects and two (2) focus group discussions of five informants each. Data analysis was done manually with a pocket calculator. The findings were presented in form of frequency tables, and cross tabulations.The results from the study revealed that majority (78%) of the pregnant women had poor level of knowledge towards prematurity and this was attributed to inadequate information, education and communication (IEC) at the health centre. Many (76%) pregnant women did not understand the importance of booking and attending antenatal clinic as very few booked at 1 to 3 months and many attending less than four (4) times in their previous pregnancies. Many (32%) respondents neither knew the signs of a premature baby nor did they know how to care for the baby. Although many (96%) of respondents had heard about a baby born prematurely and all (100%) pregnant women indicated that they sought medical aid at the health centre if/when they experienced problems very few decided on their own to do so as this was because the decisions were made by their husbands and mothers' in-law. This shows that medical personnel and the health care system have a lot of challenge to give adequate IEC to pregnant women on prematurity.The District Health Management team and Macha Mission Hospital should ensure that more traditional birth attendants are trained and supervised. An emphasis on community participation in the District should be given and the referral system strengthened.
Labor (Obstetrics) , Premature infants , Prenatal Care