Obstetrician shortage among biggest maternal healthcare problems

- Chief Medical Officer

The shortage of skilled obstetricians is one of the biggest problems in maternal health, Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health Dr. Shamdeo Persaud said yesterday.

Persaud was at the time updating members of the media on the fifth round of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) that was conducted by the Bureau of Statistics (BoS) in collaboration with the Health Ministry and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

The MICS, is a household survey developed by UNICEF to measure progress towards internationally agreed goals for children.

According to Persaud, the survey will reveal if the measures that were used are working effectively.

He did say that he would like to see “a lot more women being delivered by professionals.”

Further, he added that Guyana is still lagging behind with its high rate of teenage pregnancy and that there needs to be better access to contraceptives for teens. One of the ways this will be done is by equipping more birthing centres, he added.

Meanwhile, Ian Manifold of the Statistical Bureau told reporters that one of the main challenges faced during the collection of data was that of “gated communities.”

“We need to think seriously about strategies as we move forward,” he said.

The survey, which was conducted during the period April to July 2014, saw the enumeration of 5,904 of the 6,000 households that were targeted.

According to a UNICEF update on implementation, four questionnaires were used in the survey, seeking information on households, men aged 15 to 49, women aged 15 to 49, and children under five. It said the “households” questionnaire focused on children’s living arrangements, orphaned children, education, water and sanitation, household assets, dwelling characteristics, use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, child labour, child discipline, hand washing and salt iodization.

Among other things, the “men’s” questionnaire focused on literacy and education, fertility, attitudes towards domestic violence, sexual behaviour, knowledge of HIV/AIDS, health, alcohol and tobacco use, nutrition and life satisfaction. The “women’s” questionnaire focused on similar subjects but also investigated child mortality, antenatal care, delivery care, post-natal health checks, contraception, and unmet needs. The “children under-five” questionnaire focused on birth registration, early childhood development, breastfeeding and dietary intake, immunization, care of illness and anthropometry.

The update stated that data entry has been completed and data cleaning/processing in preparation for analysis is underway. It added that writing of the report should begin by the first week of October, once final tables are available, while the final report should be available by the end of December.

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