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The influence of millennium development goal 5 on maternal health in South Africa: a case study of uMgungundlovu District.

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Since the inception of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, globally there have been great achievements made in the reduction of mortality in women during pregnancy, childbirth and post-delivery. This is due to the fact that maternal health has been a major focus of the international community. However, in many parts of the world, maternal deaths remain unacceptably high, with wide disparities in progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5. South Arica is amongst the countries that have seen limited progress towards achieving Millennium Development Goal 5, due to the fact that it is the ‘epicentre’ of the human immune deficiency virus (HIV) infection pandemic. South Africa, as one of the States that adopted the MDGs, needs to adopt New Public Management (NPM) managerial system in order to achieve the goals. Under the auspices of NPM directing, follow up and evaluation are thus stressed, based on a principal-agent contractual and cost-cutting nexus that substitutes former trust in providers and managers of welfare tasks to serve citizens or provide public goods. The study was done in the rural area of Impendle, a Local Municipality in UMgungundlovu District, which has seven Local Municipalities. The sample was drawn from the population of African Zulu males and females, all residing in the area of Impendle. Four themes emerged from the data analysis, namely: understanding maternal health, factors affecting maternal health, community participation in maternal health and programs towards the improvement of maternal health. Lack of access to healthcare facilities is also a major contributor to failure in the achievement of this goal. Lack of access ranges from the fact that some areas have no healthcare facilities at all, while some are too far, which leads to financial constraints. Stigma on HIV and lack of support for teenage pregnancies are some of the challenges faced by women in the area. The involvement of communities, male partners and local stakeholders is important to ensure care and well-being of women and children, thus preventing unnecessary maternal morbidity and mortality, and ensuring positive health outcomes. It was found that while some improvements in general healthcare and HIV were noted, the area of maternal health is not receiving much attention, and as a result, the likelihood of achieving MDG 5 remains a challenge. The recommendations to the study would assist local authorities and decision-makers to ensure that necessary attention is given to maternal health and the attainment of MDG 5, and the decrease in the relatively high maternal mortality rate. In this way, healthy and well-informed communities can work with government for a better future for all.


Masters Degree. University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Durban.