Maternal and child death reports to be submitted to Cabinet sub-committee
(Originally published in Guyana’s Kaieteur News on 12 January 2011)
Although all the details of forensic reports are not for the consumption of the general public, it is important that certain details are made known. At least this is according to Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy.
He revealed that the public should always be apprised when a forensic report is written, despite the fact that such reports are not meant for everybody.
He asserted that if care and caution are not taken in this regard the way reports are written could be deliberately altered.
“We have got to be careful about that because investigators could begin to change what they write if what they write begins to be widely distributed,” the Minister noted.
The Minister’s remarks were forthcoming as he responded to questions as to whether reports on maternity death should be made available to persons outside of the health sector.
He explained that while the conclusion of reports and recommendations are things that should be made available, such details will now have to be disseminated after gaining the attention of Cabinet.
Cabinet, he added, will now report on such matters to the public.
“At this time Cabinet has described a process and so Cabinet’s sub-committee is going to have a monthly report of all child deaths and maternity deaths.
“Because I know how things happen in the health sector I know that most months we will have no report.”
Minister Ramsammy revealed that for at least seven months last year there were zero deaths reported.
This course of action was instigated during the latter part of last year in wake of a number of maternity deaths, which rocked the public health sector.
Addressing the area of maternity health, the Minister revealed that the public health sector has moved from statistics of 32 per 10,000 to between nine and 13 in terms of mortality, which according to him represents a marked improvement. Nonetheless, he vocalised concerns that “we are too fragile in our work”.
“If in 2009 we averaged nine per 10,000, last year we would most likely be around 12 per 10,000 from the figures we have… Yes it is an improvement but I would like not to see nine to 12, but lower. We seem to have stagnated.”
But despite the evident improvement in the area of maternal health, the Minister revealed that the Ministry has not in the past 10 years obtained the kind of disparaging results it has seen in the last four months of 2010.
“I can’t recall a period in any four months where there have been so many maternal deaths…I think there have been about six over this last few months. That is an embarrassment for me. It is an embarrassment that bothers me; it is really and truly something that is unacceptable.
“So there again we have to work with a little bit more commitment so that it never happens again in our country and I really hope that it never happens again.”
Moreover, efforts will be sustained, the Minister said, to ensure that training remains among the paramount features when it comes to the delivery of health care, as will be the provision of medicines and other commodities.