Nov 03, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – Considering the billions of dollars that is pumped into the health sector, Guyana should not be recording maternal and infant deaths. This view was expressed by Dr. Karen Cummings, Shadow Minister of Health, for the Opposition-led A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change coalition party.
The APNU+AFC Executive Member released a statement on the issue, following reports of mother and infant deaths occurring within the past two weeks. Alluding to the headlines in the daily newspaper, where a Lodge woman and her unborn child died at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) on October 20, 2022, and then a Mahaica woman and her unborn child died at GPHC on October 29, 2022, Dr Cummings said that the Opposition party is extremely disappointed to find maternal, perinatal, and neonatal deaths occurring in Guyana.
She noted that Guyana has made some strides in addressing maternal and infant healthcare, but that has not stopped the recent occurrences from becoming troubling to the APNU+AFC.
These include three maternal deaths that occurred at GPHC in February and November 2021.
During their time in office, Dr. Cummings said that APNU+AFC Coalition pursued stringent efforts to ensure greater access of primary health care for pregnant mothers.
Additionally, respectful maternity care with special focus on healthcare workers as it related to transforming attitudes, interpersonal communication, and training on values were undertaken.
She noted that Guyana’s maternal mortality rate for 2015 was 172 per 100,000, a decline of 1.15 percent from 2014, and for 2017, it was 169 per 100, 000, a decline of 0.59 percent from the figure in 2016.
According to Dr. Cummings, the then administration was aware of the common contributing factors such as poverty, pregnant mothers living long distances from hospitals, lack of information, inadequate services, and cultural practices, sought funding to improve pregnancy health outcomes.
As such, she said waiting homes were built in the hinterlands at Lethem Regional Hospital, in the Upper Takutu/ Upper Essequibo Region and in Annai in theBarima/ Waini Region.
Dr. Cummings explained that “This was a significant development towards providing quality care for the antenatal mothers and their newborn. One hundred and thirty- three million dollars were obtained for the expansion of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation Maternity Unit to increase its capacity by fifty beds.”
She continued: The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) had loaned Guyana the sum of US $8 million to assist in the reduction of maternal, perinatal, and neonatal deaths at 140 health facilities and in 88 communities, benefitting at least 140,000 women and 9,000 newborns per year over a period of five years.
Additionally, Dr. Cummings who also held the portfolio of Former Junior Minister of Health disclosed that to mitigate the prevalence of premature and untimely maternal deaths, the Ministry of Public Health, and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) provided actual birth stimulators to assist the health care personnel to see when the baby is coming out of the pelvis opening.
She explained further that this expanded the teaching and understanding of Obstetricians, Nurses and Obstetric practitioners, and alerted them to the appropriate model or type of maneuver that would be best suited to get the baby out.
These interventions were designed in conformity with accepted standards and common obstetric practice that the pregnant mother should not lose more than 150mls of blood during labour. With faster delivery time, there must be less risk of infections, injury, and blood loss.
As such, Dr. Cummings said that the recommendation of the APNU+AFC Coalition is that the recent maternal deaths be subject to a mandatory postmortem and a proper maternal death review process.
She said such actions would help to provide adequate information and accurate data that could guide the Ministry of Health on programmes, policies, and strategies for the prioritization of resources.
According to Dr. Cummings, the Government planned construction of a thirty-two billion dollar Women and Children Hospital at Ogle on the East Coast Demerara would not “cut it” if the correct actions are not taken to improve the health outcomes of the people of Guyana, as efforts to see the elimination of all preventable maternal deaths by the year 203o continues.
She said “It must be evident to this Administration by now that money alone would not accelerate our development….It requires harmony and justice and equity and the elimination of all forms of racism to unleash the creative energies of our people to build a better country – not for one but for all Guyana.”
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