Guyana records decrease in maternal deaths

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Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence said Monday that there has been a reduction in maternal deaths in Guyana.

She was speaking at the opening ceremony of a meeting on the Maternal and Child Health/Expanded Programme on Immunization at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown.

Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence

Lawrence based her facts on a report published in September this year by UNICEF, entitled Trends in Maternal Mortality.

“This report was steered by WHO UNICEF UNFPA and the World Bank, the trend show that there was a global decline of maternal mortality by 38%. Our maternal mortality stands at 169 to 100,000, a marked reduction from the 229 to 100,000 published for the last few years,” the Minister said.

The Public Health Minister noted that the government is however still concerned about the number of maternal deaths occurring across the country.

A training programme facilitated by PAHO/WHO was implemented last year in all regions across the country and have so far seen positive results.

The zero-maternal training programme since its implementation has seen a 33% reduction in maternal deaths by haemorrhage.

“In the areas in which we register successes in 2019 was training in all the regions in zero-maternal haemorrhaging and we trust that this training will continue,” the Minister said.

However, it was noted that there has been an increase this year with early bleeding in pregnant women.

Coordinator for the Maternal and Child Health programme, Dr Oneka Scott could not say how many maternal deaths were recorded for 2019 as they have not finalized the report.

Dr Scott said when a mother dies 42 days after delivery and if someone committed suicide while pregnant, these are still considered maternal deaths and would need to be included in the report to determine if there was an increase or decrease.

Meanwhile, the ongoing meeting in Georgetown is the fourth and final one for the programme which is being held in collaboration with PAHO/WHO. It will review the immunization coverage so far for this year and also discuss areas in maternal and child health.

Speaking about the immunization aspect of the programme was Chief Medical Officer Dr Shamdeo Persaud.

The Chief Medical Officer said it is important to expand access.

He said persons who are not vaccinated are usually not aware of the need to be vaccinated or does not have access to medication.

“For priority areas, I would like for us to ensure that persons at high-risk are immunized and adequately immunized.

“The mortuary attendants and other categories of health workers – it is critical for them to obtain these vaccines.

“We have added to those persons who may have missed dosages a single dose of MMR, yellow fever along with Hepatitis B and the tetanus toxoid; this is for adults and older children who may not have received their vaccines,” Dr Persaud said.

PAHO/WHO Country Representative, Dr William Adu-Krow, said the organization will continue to provide technical support to Guyana to the maternal and child health/expanded immunization programme.

Dr Adu-Krow noted that a number of countries have lost their certification in the prevention of diseases through vaccination such as measles, polio and yellow fever.

“There was a 72 percent increase of measles cases in the first half of 2019 in Brazil alone.

“Guyana is bordered by Brazil and Venezuela and it stand at threats from the importation of vaccine preventable diseases,” Dr Adu Krow said.

Guyana has not reported a case of measles since 1991, yellow fever since 1968 and polio since 1962.

Meanwhile, five longstanding nurses in maternal health were honoured for their service and contribution.

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