Deaths of neonatals, children under five have dropped
- Lawrence -none of four incubators in Region Seven functioning
Deaths among neonatals and children under five years dropped continually from 526 in 2014 to 184 in 2017 with Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica) recording the highest fatalities yet with a significant reduction, according to preliminary data from the Statistical Unit of the Ministry of Public Health.
Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence made this revelation in a written response to questions from PPP/C MP Vindhya Persaud, pertaining to infant and child health. Lawrence gave a breakdown of fatalities among neonatals, infants and fiveyear olds.
In 2014 Region Four recorded the deaths of 112 neonatals and 133 infants, the highest in the four-year period. In 2015 the region recorded 17 five-year olds deaths, the highest among the four years. The lowest deaths, 11, among the three groups for the period, were recorded in Region Nine (Upper Essequibo/Upper Takutu).
Asked what measures were put in place to ensure that all neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) are properly equipped and functioning, Lawrence said, support is being given to the NICU team to visit health facilities twice a year.
The Helping Babies Breathe programme, she said, is an ongoing initiative to provide the requisite skills to manage new born babies and to stabilise children in distress.
The NICUs of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) and the West Demerara Regional Hospital, she said, will benefit from an InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB) loan which will assist in the purchase of equipment.
The implementation of a perinatal information system, she said, would also assist with data management.
Lawrence acknowledged that many areas in the health system need improvement hence Government’s continued efforts to ensure universal access and coverage.
To decrease the inequities in primary health care between the coastland and hinterland, she said, “It is our target that every hospital would have specialists to the areas of paediatrics, surgery and obstetrics-gynaecology and this has already begun.”
Asked about the status of the Child Morbidity and Mortality Committee, Lawrence said the term of the current committee, which was formed in June 2014 and whose term was extended to the end of August 2018, has expired.
In terms of reporting child morbidity and mortality, Lawrence said regional health officers and the Director of Medical Services of the GPHC report all deaths of neonatals, children under five years and maternal deaths to the Chief Medical Officer who then shares the information with the relevant authorities for review.
Asked if the committee has made recommendations and if any have been implemented, Lawrence said, it has recommended more training of staff for the time of labour and delivery and for the completion of “the ALARM”