Decline in early antenatal care attendance raises concerns

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The number of pregnant women attending their antenatal care before 20 weeks of gestation continues to decline, posing risks to both mothers and babies.

According to the District Health Barometer report by the Health System Trust, there has been a decrease in antenatal first visit coverage, continuing a downward trend since 2021/22.

While the antenatal 1st visit coverage increased in the Northern Cape, it declined in all other provinces. Particularly concerning is the North West province, where the rate declined for the fourth consecutive year, making it the highest in the country for delayed first antenatal visits among pregnant women.

Noluthando Ndlovu, Senior Researcher at Health Systems Trust, stresses the importance of early booking for antenatal care. She says, “Accessing antenatal care before twenty weeks is quite important because during that visit, it enables the woman to gain information on a variety of interventions.”

“For example, HIV testing to ensure that the parents or the mom actually if they are HIV positive, gain access to antiretroviral therapy and that would prevent the mother-to-child transmission. It is also important to ensure that women access care before twenty weeks to make sure that any sort of defects that the foetus may have can be detected quite early,” adds Ndlovu.

The Health Department confirmed the issue of delayed first antenatal care visits among expectant mothers, especially among young mothers.

Spokesperson for the Health Department in the North West Tebogo Lekgethwane says, “We realise as the department that the younger generation of mothers, that’s where the challenge is.”


Awareness and importance of early and effective treatment PMDD: