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Concern over rise in maternal mortality
An English professor of obstetrics has attributed the alarming rise in T&T’s maternal mortality to women having children later in life. Dr Mark Johnson, of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, England, said women should have children earlier, possibly in their 20s.
He was speaking at the launch yesterday of a specialised multi-disciplinary cardiac clinic at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mount Hope. Johnson was responding to concerns raised by Dr Bharat Bassaw, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Mt Hope, who said yesterday there has been an alarming increase in maternal mortality instead of an expected fall.
He said: “Our maternal mortality in this country is very high. When we look at our figures at Mt Hope Maternity, the latest research was 33 deaths for 100,000 women. “What has been happening... our figures are rising and this is in the wrong direction. We would have expected our maternal mortality to be falling.
“Our national figure is now 60-70 per 100,000 women. If 100,000 women are pregnant, we expect 60 or 70 to die. “This is very, very high. When compared to the United Kingdom you can expect approximately one woman in 100,000 to die.” The Obstetrics and Gynaecology Unit of the Mt Hope Hospital has teamed up with the Ministry of Health, University of the West Indies’ Faculty of Medical Sciences and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital at Imperial College in London.
In order to curb maternal deaths from heart disease, the unit has set up a cardiac clinic which will monitor pregnant women referred to the clinic who have heart problems. Even pregnant women without referrals can seek treatment at the clinic. The most severe cases, Bassaw said, would be treated by the team of three local cardiologists, an anaesthesiologist and two obstetricians.
It will be held on Wednesdays, beginning next month. High-risk women will be kept at the hospital, while low-risk patients will be transferred to health centres or other clinics for treatment. Sedentary lifestyles, smoking, consumption of alcohol and obesity also have contributed to the rise in maternal mortality, Bassaw said.
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