The number of women making maternal and reproductive health visits is shrinking, says the City of Cape Town, which is urging women to make their health a priority this Women’s Month and take advantage of services available at their clinics.
The City’s health department has noted a 5% decrease in maternal health visits, from 72 441 during 2020/21 to 68 972 during 2021/22. Reproductive health visits have dropped by 3.2%, from 909 742 to 880 580.
Patricia van der Ross, mayoral committee member for community services and health, reminds women that it’s important to continue visits throughout their pregnancy.
“The biggest drop in antenatal visits occurred after 20 weeks and this could be because women consider this period as being out of the danger zone,” she said.
Regular clinic visits protected both mother and child to ensure a healthy pregnancy, she said.
“Continuing with clinic visits throughout the pregnancy will not only ensure that the baby is growing well but also that the mom-to-be is in good health.”
Keeping up with clinic visits was part of making healthy choices that could help in avoiding long-term health problems, the City said.
“Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among South African women. It can be successfully treated if detected in the early stages, so it is important that women are aware of symptoms and what is normal for their bodies,” said a City health department statement.
City clinics offer a number for free services: three free pap smears to all women between 30 and 58 years at 10-year intervals and at three-year intervals for HIV-positive women; screening for cervical and breast cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes; and testing for sexually transmitted infections, TB and HIV.
“I want to encourage women to visit their nearest clinic and speak to our nurses who can advise and address any health concerns they may have,” said Ms Van der Ross.