No country in the world has achieved or is likely to achieve the ambitious goal of no maternal and neonatal deaths.
This notion was recently amplified by Dr. Lucio Pedro, Head of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology [OBGYN] Department of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC].
However, in adherence to goals Four and Five of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals [MDGs], countries across the world have been putting measures in place to reduce the rate of maternal and neonatal deaths.
Goal Four of the MDGs speaks to the reduction of two-thirds of under-five deaths, while Goal Five speaks to the reduction of three-quarters of maternal mortality by 2015. The specified levels of reductions were slated to occur between the period 1990 and 2015, but some countries are still working to achieve and sustain these goals.
The GPHC, Guyana’s premier public health institution, has been no exception in this regard.
In order to achieve the goals, incremental measures have been put in place at the GPHC’s Maternity Unit to improve its capacity, and by extension, conform to the MDGs.
But according to Dr. Pedro, even with the recent opening of a new Maternity Wing, the hospital still has some way to go. Like most hospitals of the world, he asserted that “Our biggest challenge is [still] to decrease the maternal and neonatal mortalities.”
But deliberate efforts have been made to help the GPHC to gradually realise this goal.
Dr. Pedro made reference to the GPHC’s Obstetrics and Gynaecology Residency Programme headed by Dr. Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew as being especially instrumental in reducing the maternal mortality rate.
“She [Dr. Larkins-Pettigrew] has been the driving force for the decrease in the maternal deaths by 50 percent since the programme started in 2012,” said Dr. Pedro, as he highlighted that the programme has thus far graduated 10 doctors.
The goal of the Residency programme has been to ensure that crucial expertise is always available at the GPHC to attend to even the most challenging deliveries. In fact, the programme was so designed to encourage physicians and nurses to work hand in hand, since it has long been recognised that without this, patient care can be compromised.
Despite the keen efforts that have been yielding results, Dr. Pedro noted that the GPHC is yet challenged to further reduce its mortality rates.
“We should not have preventable maternal deaths [but] we can put a dent on the maternal and neonatal deaths if we have the personnel – nurses, doctors – and a reliable supply of drugs…and help from the regional hospitals is very crucial if we want to succeed,” he highlighted.
According to Dr. Pedro, the hospital is often taxed for space and the referrals from the various hospitals do not help the situation. As such he noted that “We eagerly await the start and completion of the extension of prenatal and post-natal wards where at the moment you may find four patients in one bed – two mothers and two babies.”
For the month of October alone, the Maternity Unit delivered 606 patients. Of these were 136 Caesarean Sections [C-Section].
Dr. Pedro noted, too, about 82 of the cases seen at the GPHC in October were referrals from regional hospitals. He related that despite the efforts of the staffers attached to the Maternity Unit, the outcome is usually not possible without the support of many other departments of the hospital. He listed for instance the Paediatric Department, especially the area of Neonatology, the Intensive Care Unit, Medicine, Surgery, Nephrology and the Cardiac Unit.
Dr. Pedro emphasised that while doctors, nurses and other health professionals are instrumental, maids and porters also have important roles to play in ensuring that the work of the hospital is effective.
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