Buchanan, Grand Bassa County – The health officer of Grand Bassa County has called for more hospitals in order to tackle and reduce the high increase of maternal and newborn deaths in the county.
Dr. Joseph M. Sieka, mentioning Liberia’s 2013 survey of maternal mortality, said Grand Bassa County has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country due to high teenage pregnancy. The current statistics of maternal and newborn death is not known but the health official is emphasizing the need for intervention.
He said the county only referral hospital is always overwhelmed though there are two other concession companies’ hospitals, but are inadequate to cater to the county’s increasing population.
“The number of people in Grand Bassa County has increased to 261,793 for which means the county needs more hospitals to help reduce the maternal mortality rate in the county,” he said.
Dr. Sieka was speaking on Tuesday at the beginning of a two-day maternal and newborn health conference in Buchanan held under the theme “ No to Maternal and Newborn Deaths” with a slogan “ Mama and baby must live”. The conference which ended on Wednesday, June 14, brought together over 150 delegates including government officials, traditional leaders, community representatives and health partners from the five districts of Grand Bassa.
According to the organizers, the purpose of the gathering is to “celebrate gains made against maternal and newborn deaths; raise awareness, advocate for the betterment of maternal and neonatal health as well as determine solutions and strategies to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in Grand Bassa County”.
Maternal death is when a woman dies while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of the pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and size of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes, Dr. Sieka explained to the audience.
He said mother or infant deaths occur in vulnerable families, and if they survive childbirth, they are more likely to die before reaching their second birthday, something he said health workers in the county don’t want to see happening.
“The factors that increase maternal death can be direct or indirect. There is a distinction between a direct maternal death that is the result of a complication of the pregnancy, delivery, or management of two, and an indirect maternal death,” the Grand Bassa medical officer said.
He mentioned access to resources, income level and age of pregnant women as factors use as indicators for maternal death outcomes while stressing that young mothers face higher risks of complications and death during pregnancy than older mothers.
At the same time, he envisioned that commitments made and strategies developed during the conference will be implemented fully to help reduce maternal and newborn deaths in Grand Bassa County and best practices will be shared with other counties.
The two-day conference was jointly convened by the Ministry of Health through the Grand Bassa health team and health partners with support from maternal and child survival program (MCSP) and the restoration of health services project implemented by Jhpiego. Funding was provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Liberia Demography Health Survey (LDHS) states that the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in Liberia has increased from 994 to 1072 per 100,000 live births from 2007 to 2013 while the neonatal mortality rate has reduced from 32 to 26 per 1000 live births during the same period.
Efforts have been made at various levels to address this alarming rate of maternal and newborn deaths by improving health coverage in Antenatal Care (ANC), training Skilled Birth Attendants (SBA), Essential Newborn Care and Post Natal Care (PNC).
Report by: Elton Wroinbee Tiah