Government plans to spend $72.6 million this year to improve the quality of care given to maternal health patients.
According to the 2014 budget, government has allocated $21.4 billion towards achieving “strategic goals” in the health sector.
Of this amount, “$50 million is allocated to commence the extension of the maternity facility at the Georgetown Public Hospital to ensure increased bed capacity while $22.6 million is allocated for the establishment of maternity waiting homes in Lethem and Bartica to cater for antenatal high-risk mothers”.
Finance Minister Ashni Singh, during the presentation of the budget on Monday, said that the allocations are “in keeping with government’s focus on maternal health.”
“Government will continue to prioritize resource mobilization for improving maternal health and efforts will be made to accelerate achievement of this goal in collaboration with our developmental partners,” Singh assured.
The announcement comes against the backdrop of Guyana’s relatively high number of maternal deaths.
The country is currently hard-pressed to reduce its maternal maternity ratio by three quarters by 2015 as it strives to meet the 5th Millennium Development Goal.
A country’s maternal mortality rate is the annual number of female deaths per 100,000 live births from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management (excluding accidental or incidental causes). It includes deaths during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy for a specified year.
With 11 maternal deaths registered last year, Guyana’s maternal mortality ratio is second only to that of Haiti, for Caricom countries. A large portion of these deaths have been blamed, primarily by the relatives of victims, on malpractice on the part of care givers, although Singh made no reference to planned actions to address this area.
Last year, Health Minister Bheri Ramsaran told Stabroek News that several initiatives were being undertaken to lower the maternal mortality ration. These initiatives included putting a new batch of trained doctors to work alongside veteran obstetricians and gynecologists, so that if there is an emergency and the doctors were in surgery the juniors will be able to assist.
Further, $2.4 billion will be made available to construct and upgrade general health care facilities including the Port Kaituma District Hospital, the Linden Hospital Complex, the Kwakwani Hospital, the acute care facility at the National Psychiatric Hospital and the Georgetown School of Nursing. Furthermore, $382.7 million will go towards buying medical equipment, while $117 million will be used to purchase 12 ambulances. Once the new vehicles are acquired the national fleet will be bolstered by 40 percent.