Maternal, perinatal deaths are recurring nightmares – Bayelsa

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Samuel Nkemakolem, Yenagoa

The Bayelsa State Government has described the high rate of maternal and perinatal deaths in the state as a recurring nightmare saying the healthcare system in the country was weak.

The Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, who said this on Wednesday in Yenagoa, capital of the state, noted that Nigeria accounted for 10 per cent of maternal deaths in the world, following the death of 33,000 women each year.

He spoke as the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund and the Bayelsa State Government commenced the training of health workers on Wednesday to tackle the twin issues of maternal and perinatal deaths.

Specifically, the workers will be trained on maternal and perinatal death surveillance and response reporting.

The term perinatal has to do with the period immediately before and after birth. The perinatal period is defined in diverse ways. Depending on the definition, it starts from the 20th to 28th week of gestation and ends.

Prof. Etebu said the trained workers would provide evidence-based information on the why, what, where and number of maternal and perinatal deaths in the state.

He said the training would help the state to provide accurate data on birth-related deaths; make available tools and means of reducing maternal and perinatal deaths and introduce best practice in handling such matters.

Etebu commended UNICEF for its assistance and called on stakeholders in the state to take advantage of the process to institute accurate data in the state.

He said: “The expected social and medical outcome of every intended pregnancy is to have a healthy mother with a baby that is endowed with full potential for its own existence and survival”.

He lamented the disparity in birth-related deaths between the developed countries and developing countries in Africa.

He said: “Whereas evidence-based interventions are employed into preventing maternal and perinatal deaths in developed countries, this is less applicable to their developing counterparts.

“Secondly, for every maternal and perinatal deaths the occur in the developed countries, a review is carried out to understand and identify gaps in services that may have led to the deaths with a view to preventing future occurrence”.

Etebu noted that the National Council on Health (NCH) approved the council memo establishing Maternal Death Review (MDR) in all the states in 2011.

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