With funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IBD), the Ministry of Public Health has introduced an initiative that is aimed at keeping avoidable maternal deaths at bay.
This is according to Director of Maternal and Child Health, Dr. Ertenisa Hamilton.
There has thus far been no reported case of maternal death for this year and the Ministry of Public Health is hoping to keep things that way as far as possible.
Using the loan, Dr. Hamilton said that the Ministry has embraced the Three Delays Model. This Model is one that sees the Ministry working strategically with women within communities.
“We recognise that education is an important role with regards to how women respond when they are pregnant and what are their actions, especially in cases where you recognise that there is some sort of danger,” Dr. Hamilton underscored.
For this reason the aim of the Three Delays Model is to firstly recognise when there is potential danger as it relates to a pregnancy. Once this is detected, then the next move is to ensure that the individual is taken as soon as possible to a health care facility. However, Dr. Hamilton asserted that while taking a pregnant woman at risk in a timely manner to a health facility is important, what is even more important is ensuring that the health facility has the necessary equipment to provide adequate care.
Moreover, Dr. Hamilton said that the Three Delays Model does not only emphasise the importance of training, but it also looks at infrastructure in terms of what equipment is needed and what systems should be in place.
“All of those things we have brought on board because it is a comprehensive way of looking at how we reduce deaths,” Dr. Hamilton noted.
The IDB last year approved an US$8 million loan for a programme to not only help to reduce maternal but also neonatal deaths in Guyana.
This programme is one that is aimed at improving the quality of care at 140 health facilities and in 88 communities, benefitting at least 140,000 women and 9,000 newborns per year.
Despite progress achieved during the last decade, Guyana had reportedly continued to experience one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a maternal mortality rate estimated at 121 per 1,000 live births and an infant mortality rate at 22 per 1,000 live births.
It was revealed that about 93 percent of deaths in children less than one year of age occurred in the neonatal period. As such, the programme was designed to support and improve maternal and child health care with a focus on improving access to quality neonatal health services and providing a better path to quality reproductive and maternal health services.
This operation draws from the IDB’s experiences with the Mesoamerican Health Initiative, and incorporates lessons learned on evidence-based biomedical and operational interventions.
It will closely monitor results to ensure that those interventions can contribute to the success of the programme.
Although the collaboration with IDB comes as part of the Ministry’s efforts to curb the maternal and neonatal mortality rate, information out of the Ministry has suggested that the major challenge faced in realising a safe motherhood initiative has been linked to the depleted midwifery staff within the regions to adequately execute the programme.
Moreover, the Ministry has asserted that it has been seeking to intensify its efforts to address this shortcoming.
In 2015, there were 17 recorded maternal deaths, while in 2016 there were 12 recorded maternal deaths. Ministry officials have linked the reduction to the fact that there are more trained doctors in the public health system in the field of Obstetrics. It was said too that the reduction in the number of maternal deaths can also be attributed to increased education and women being seen earlier in their pregnancy.
Meanwhile, helping to reduce the number of neonatal deaths has been credited to deliberate collaboration between the public health sector and the Guyana Help the Kids (GHTK) Charity. This collaboration saw the commissioning of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Bartica Regional Hospital in May of last year.
This hospital has joined five others across the country with established NICUs as a result of this collaboration.
Added to this, during the course of last year 33 health care providers were trained under the Helping Babies Breathe initiative, and this saw them being equipped with the skills to manage infants who are born with breathing complications.
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