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With Pregnancy Awareness Week upon us, City Health calls on expectant mothers to make use of all services available to them to ensure their own health and well-being and that of their babies. 

The City of Cape Town’s Health Department is on a drive to increase the number of women who register early for basic antenatal care (BANC).

The Department will host a number of public education and awareness sessions about pregnancy, family planning, and planned parenthood, among others, to coincide with Pregnancy Awareness Week between 8 and 14 February 2017.The new BANC programme advocates that women enrol before they are 14 weeks pregnant as this gives enough time to identify and mitigate any problems that may have an impact on the health of their unborn baby.

In the 2015/16 financial year, just over 14 000 women enrolled for basic antenatal care at City clinics – 33% of them did so after the 20-week mark.

‘Women must please get to their nearest clinic as soon as they find out they are pregnant so that we have time to do the investigations needed, and provide education and supplementation with micronutrients to help them and their unborn babies. Child health starts in the womb and sometimes this requires sacrifices from expectant women, including watching their diet, exercising and also ceasing smoking and drinking which is harmful to their baby’s health. Registering early for basic antenatal care helps cover all of these aspects,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.

The BANC programme is an important element in the City’s First 1 000 Days Campaign, which focuses on promoting child health and brain development. The premise of the campaign is that looking after a child starts from conception and that the period up until the child turns two is crucial to their development later in life. More information about the First 1 000 Days Campaign is available here: http://www.capetown.gov.za/media-and-news/City%20Health%20steps%20up%20its%201%20000%20Days%20Campaign

Apart from the services available for pregnant women, the City’s health facilities also provide general women’s health and sexual reproductive education, advice, and an extensive choice of family planning methods. The services are provided free of charge. Below is a snapshot of the contraceptive services provided in the previous financial year:

Contraceptive method Totals
Oral pill packets 128 849
3-month injection 252 944
2-month injection 118 086
Intra-uterine device 652
Etonogestrel implant 3 056
Female condoms distributed 1 610 870
Male condoms distributed 47 833 888
Male sterilisations 64 (done at provincial facilities)
Female sterilisations 431(done at provincial facilities)

‘In an ideal world, pregnancy should be planned and treasured. The reality is that many pregnancies are unplanned and frequently unwanted, often without the necessary support from partners or families. Having a child is a massive emotional, physical and financial responsibility. No woman should be forced into such a situation. Contraception is a tricky subject, especially where it concerns young people. Many young people are sexually active and the City clinics are equipped to educate and provide the means for safe sex and prevention of unwanted pregnancies. There has been a steady reduction in the teen pregnancy rate which accounted for just under 4% of all births recorded in the public sector in 2015 and we need to ensure that we reduce it even further,’ said Alderman Smith.

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