Ma­ter­nal deaths in de­cline

Po­ten­tially pre­ventable diseases in preg­nancy re­ceive top at­ten­tion

Daily Dispatch - - News - NONSINDISO QWABE non­sindisoq@dis­

Ma­ter­nal deaths in the province are on a slow but steady de­cline as the treat­ment of po­ten­tially pre­ventable diseases in preg­nant women re­ceives the pri­or­ity it needs.

Health MEC He­len Sauls-Au­gust told pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture on Tues­day that the deaths of women dur­ing preg­nancy or within 40 days of giv­ing birth de­creased from 135 for ev­ery 100,000 live births in 2016 to 128 per 100,000 in 2018.

This was one of the suc­cesses shared in Sauls-Au­gust’s an­nual re­port.

While the re­port in­di­cated a slight de­crease in ma­ter­nal death fig­ures, it said the de­part­ment was still bur­dened by deaths caused by other diseases like HIV and high blood pres­sure. Sauls-Au­gust said most ma­ter­nal deaths still oc­curred in the OR Tambo district at the Nel­son Man­dela Aca­demic Hos­pi­tal, which ser­viced pa­tients re­ferred from hos­pi­tals in Al­fred Nzo, OR Tambo and Chris Hani dis­tricts.

She said high blood pres­sure was most preva­lent in teen preg­nan­cies, which re­mained at cri­sis level in the province.

The Dis­patch re­ported in July that 3,907 girls aged be­tween 15 and 19 gave birth at East­ern Cape health fa­cil­i­ties be­tween Jan­uary and March. In the same pe­riod 77 girls un­der 15 gave birth.

“The re­gion has high teen preg­nan­cies re­sult­ing in high preva­lence of hy­per­ten­sion. Hy­per­ten­sion in preg­nancy is the sec­ond lead­ing cause of death af­ter HIV.

“Ob­stet­ric haem­or­rhage is the third [high­est] cause of ma­ter­nal deaths.”

Sauls-Au­gust said mother to child HIV trans­mis­sion had also sig­nif­i­cantly de­creased due to early an­te­na­tal care for preg­nant women and hav­ing more than 90% of HIV­pos­i­tive mothers reg­is­tered on HIV treat­ment plans. She said the de­part­ment was col­lab­o­rat­ing with the de­part­ment of ed­u­ca­tion to fo­cus on re­duc­ing teen preg­nancy and in­creas­ing an­te­na­tal visit cov­er­age.

Ac­cord­ing to Sauls-Au­gust, the Western Cape records the low­est ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity at 68.30 per 100,000 live births, fol­lowed by KZN at 127.14. The Free State is cur­rently the worst province, with 174.63 per 100,000 live births.

The an­nual re­port sings praises of the de­part­ment’s con­tin­ued work to “ful­fil its obli­ga­tions and man­date of de­liv­er­ing qual­ity health­care ser­vices to the peo­ple of this province”. “The de­part­ment is mak­ing progress towards de­liv­er­ing qual­ity health ser­vices to the cit­i­zens of the East­ern Cape even un­der a con­strained en­vi­ron­ment heav­ily im­pacted by the ever grow­ing de­mand for health ser­vices and the scourge of medi­core­lated claims,” Sauls-Au­gust said.

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