PAHO urges action to tackle maternal deaths

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In the first six weeks of 2019, Guyana recorded four maternal deaths, and according to the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO-WHO) Country Representative, Dr. William Adu-Krow the situation is worrisome.

Dr. Adu-Krow said PAHO said data reveal that there is need to improve the quality of care in terms of clinical competencies, adequate assessment of high-risk patients and timely referrals. PAHO/WHO, he said, will continue to work closely with the Public Health Ministry to provide technical support to bring down the number of maternal deaths.

“We need to ensure that no woman loses her life while attempting to give life to another,” the PAHO/WHO Country Representative told a group of high-level medical personnel during the opening of Maternal and Child Health, Expanded Programme on Immunization MCH-EPI Quarterly Review Meeting on Monday at the Pegasus Hotel.

Noting that each health facility should aim to have zero maternal death, Dr. Adu-Krow death by obstetric haemorrhaging remains a major problem. Only recently, PAHO/WHO donated 100 non-pneumatic anti-shock garments (NASGs) to the Public Health Ministry to aid in the management of patients who experience obstetric haemorrhaging.

A non-pneumatic anti-shock garment is a low-technology lifesaving device used to treat hypovolemic shock. It is believed that when used in the case of an obstetric haemorrhage, it can help to reduce maternal deaths. An obstetrical haemorrhage is defined as heavy bleeding of a woman during or shortly after a pregnancy.

The PAHO-WHO Represented said statistics show that 52 per cent of pregnant women go into labour with HB levels lower than 10 g/dl. “Ladies and gentlemen, we often say that normal delivery there is about 150 ml blood loss, but if you are starting with a deficit…,” he said while noting that maternal anemia should be tackled early.

He also emphasized the need for the MCH Referral Programme to be adhered to and implemented particularly in hospitals located in far flung communities.

Systems in place
Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Shamdeo Persaud and MCH Officer (ag) Dr. Oneka Scott were among the other Health Officials present. Minister Lawrence said that the Ministry has several systems in place to tackle maternal death.

“Our issue basically has to do with geography, has to do with culture because if you notice most of our deaths are coming from the regions where out indigenous populations are very high, and so we are seeking to work with the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs to see how we could collaborate,” Minister Lawrence said.

She noted that an initial meeting with Vice President Sydney Allicock has been held. The Public Health Ministry is hoping to utilize services and skills of some of the officers from the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs to work within the health centers, particularly those that can speak the dialect. Such a system, she said would allow for better communication between the doctors and patients in those Indigenous communities.

Additionally, the Public Health Ministry is working to address the transportation issues that hinder medical personnel from reaching patients in the far reaches of the country.
“Some of them are not accessible by ATVs so we are calling on the Ministry of Communities to do more in terms of providing the transportation to take us out to those communities so we can reach those women,” Minister Lawrence said.

Public Health Minister also lobbied for support from Toshaos and other local leaders to get pregnant women the services they need. Maternal and Child Health, Expanded Programme on Immunization MCH-EPI Quarterly Review Meeting continues for the remainder of the week.