“It is every one’s desire, I’m sure, that every pregnancy ends with a healthy baby and a healthy mother.”
This was the assertion of Director of Maternal and Child Health [MCH] within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Ertenisa Hamilton, as she spoke of the deliberate efforts being made within the public health sector to realise the continuity of life.
She informed that it is the goal of the MCH Department to ensure that “every woman, every child, every adolescent [and even every man] is among the healthiest within the Caribbean and Latin America.”
Achieving this goal, she noted, is not only dependent on the role of medical practitioners and other health workers, but there is also need for the necessary equipment and other factors to be in place.
But according to Dr. Hamilton, “this can only happen when we have all of our forces in the right direction, not just health services, but all of the other contributing ministries and sectors.”
As she took into consideration the statistics of the Public Health Ministry, Dr. Hamilton noted that “we recognise that although we have been able to reduce child deaths, these deaths continue to remain a problem, specifically neonatal deaths.”
The majority of neonatal deaths, she disclosed, have been linked to prematurity.
In the case of maternal mortality, she noted that there are three main delays that are known to occur countrywide that contribute to maternal mortality. And these, according to Dr. Hamilton, are certainly not unique to Guyana.
She was at the time making reference to women developing complications when:  seeking appropriate medical help for an obstetric emergency;  they reach an appropriate obstetric facility, and  receiving adequate care when a facility is reached that is sufficient to preserve their life.
Speaking of the recently commissioned Maternity Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC], Dr. Hamilton said that “this facility, which is our tertiary facility, should have the requisite equipment [and] the requisite skills to be able to provide the services at the level that we are looking at.”
She continued, “All of the other regions depend on this facility, which is basically the last stop in Guyana, and when patients arrive here, they can actually leave alive”.
The MCH Director is optimistic that with the measures apace, Guyana will be able to realise, by 2021, reduced maternal deaths of 74 per 1,000 live births and reduced infant deaths of less than 14 per 1,000 and stability in its under five mortality rate.
Although progress has been made, reports suggest that during the past decade, Guyana has experienced 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.
Currently, the Public Health Ministry is gaining support from the Inter-American Development Bank [IDB] to achieve its MCH objective.
The IDB, Dr. Hamilton said, “will be adding to what we already have here, as a structure, with regards to equipment and some amount of training for staff.”
The important role of the MCH Department was amplified on Wednesday in the National Assembly by Public Health Minister, Ms. Volda Lawrence. Lawrence told her parliamentary colleagues that because MCH has been of great concern to her Ministry, “Initiatives of great importance have been undertaken to improve the health outcomes for mothers and children, with a view to reducing the maternal and infant mortality rates”.
In this regard, she reiterated what was earlier amplified by Dr. Hamilton that “We [the Public Health sector] continue to invest in this critical area, promoting safe motherhood and child survival, as well as ensuring that all men, women, children and adolescents are adequately assessed for good health, that they are aware of their health status and are practicing healthy lifestyles.”
As part of the ongoing efforts, Lawrence said that moves have been made to train the different categories of health workers to improve their skills in the identification and management of obstetric emergencies through the ALARM training programme.
ALARM, which represents Advanced Labour and Risk Management, is intended to ensure that health workers are in a better position to undertake their duties. Also, she disclosed that obstetricians were strategically placed in Regions Seven and Nine to bridge gaps of having intermediary services before arriving at the national referral hospital.
Further, the public health sector has been making available a new contraceptive method through special clinics held in regions One, Two and Nine which have thus far been accepted by some 130 women. This service, according to Minister Lawrence, is also offered at the GPHC, along with post partum contraceptives. And according to her, “All of these measures are among new recommendations from the World Health Organisation.”
As she continued her informed deliberations, Minister Lawrence recalled that during the height of the Zika epidemic a few years ago, the MCH Department was instrumental in establishing systems to facilitate early detection of microcephaly during pregnancy. This saw training in basic obstetrics ultrasonography in collaboration with RAD-AIDE [an international aid organization focused on increasing and improving radiology for poor and developing countries] and linkages to rehabilitative services, as well as mental health services through psychosocial support.
Further, there was training for Water Ambulance Service, to initiate service for mothers before arrival at the health facility and refresher training courses for Birth Attendants. As it relates to child health survival, health workers of all categories in regions One, Five, Six and Nine were trained in helping babies breathe, to care for sick neonates until they arrive at the facility to receive appropriate levels of care, Minister Lawrence said.
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These horror stories are real occurrences about a country named Guyana that in my opinion should not be allowed to continue... more
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