─ seeking to assist Public Health Ministry in achieving zero maternal mortality streak

Since 2014, the country’s health sector had made significant strides in reducing maternal deaths. To this end, the Public Health Ministry and the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) are preparing to partner to further address maternal mortality.

This is according to PAHO/WHO Representative (PWR) Guyana, Dr. William Adu-Krow.

“How are we at PAHO positioning ourselves? The director [PAHO’s Dr. Carissa Etienne] has asked us to report, on a monthly basis, who died, where they died, why they died and how they died and what can be done.” Dr. Adu-Krow said.

This, he said, is in light of his recent knowledge of at least seven maternal deaths recorded throughout the country, thus far, for 2019.

“Maternal deaths started falling from 2014 from 24 to 22 last year it was about 12 or 14, and now we are at seven. If we have six maternal deaths by the end of February, multiply that by six, which would take us to the end of December, that means we are looking at 36 deaths.”

In 2014 Guyana was known as the country in the Caribbean region with the highest maternal mortality rates. MoPH statistics show that in 2015, 14 maternal deaths were recorded while in 2016, 14 deaths were also recorded, however the mortality rate jumped to 116 deaths per 100,000 live births.

In 2018, international statistics recorded Guyana’s mortality rate at 229 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births which is said to be an overwhelming number for a country with a population of approximately 750,000.

The international representative on health in Guyana added that this calls for serious action. “We believe that no woman should lose their life while giving birth.”

Dr. Adu-Krow said that maternal mortality is a major issue and it is one that needs to be addressed right away.  Maternal mortality is of special interest to PAHO and they are therefore looking to eliminating instances of such.

“There is empirical evidence that says for everyone death we have about 15 to 20 near misses, so let’s learn from the near misses and there are criteria for the near misses, and we want to support the ministry and address the issue of near misses,” he said.

Also, Dr. Adu-Krow presented that the goal is to have zero maternal mortality as a result of blood loss. “This is a tall order, why? because the last data that I looked at indicated that 52 per cent of our women come into labour with haemoglobin less than ten, that already puts them at a disadvantage.”

All this was said while the PWR highlighted several priority areas to be addressed by the ministry with support from PAHO/WHO. He was at the time attending the Regional Health Officers Conference on Wednesday, March 6, 2019.

The ministry of Public Health within the last five years has placed much emphasis on creating access to primary healthcare for pregnant women. More importantly, the ministry has trained community health workers specifically, those of far flung hinterland communities.

Also, in the hinterland, there has been the construction and refurbishment of maternity waiting home for pregnant women living great distance from the hospital. These have been so in Regions One and Nine.

Delicia Haynes. DPI