Findings of maternal deaths probe for release by early next year


The findings and recommendations of the recent maternal deaths investigation would be made public by early next year, Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy has said.

Speaking to Stabroek News, Ramsammy said that the reports from the investigation conducted by his ministry into the eight maternal deaths since September have been submitted to the Cabinet Sub-committee on Health and it is expected that following its input, the findings and recommendations would be put in the public domain. “Yes, they would be made public. I am waiting for the final say from Cabinet. They were supposed to meet last week—the group that is working on it, I don’t think they were able to make it,” he said, while adding that it is more realistic to make the findings public early next year.

Dr Leslie Ramsammy

He said there are some recommendations made by the ministry but in addition to those Cabinet may also choose to make some of its own. “One of the things that is quite clear, which I have talked about before, when you do a forensic audit on these things then the notes that doctors and nurses write are inadequate… This is not for maternity alone but across the board. But in examining, you would see that the notation is still not adequate even though we have been talking about it,” Ramsammy noted.
According to the minister, earlier this year as part of their service agreement they had spoken about hospitals conducting internal audits on the charts in addition to the ministry doing its external audits. He said the first set of audits have been completed for the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC), the New Amsterdam Hospital and the Skeldon, Port Mourant, Mahaicony, Diamond, Suddie, Linden and West Demerara hospitals. He said the reports are now being compiled. He added that the ministry has randomly picked up charts—not only maternity charts— from the hospitals, as it wants to ensure that all personnel are paying close attention to them.

Last week, another woman lost her life at the GPHC during child birth, after being transferred from the Linden Hospital, bringing the number of women who died in child birth since September to nine.

Ramsammy has said that while Guyana is still on pace to reach its MDG target in maternal health, the recent deaths have been a major setback. The minister had also admitted that “things somehow broke down” within the past few months, noting that the system needs improving.
Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon earlier this month announced that monthly meetings will be held with health ministry officials on every maternal death, as government continues to take steps to address the increase in numbers. Luncheon had said the move is part of the “heightened monitoring of maternal deaths,” and would involve having ministry officials submit a report on every death to the cabinet sub-committee on health and also report the year-to-date deaths. “The Cabinet sub-committee will assess those deaths and reports and on the basis of those assessments make known its findings to Cabinet. Cabinet will then provide its own directions and its own opinions and thoughts to the Ministry of Health,” Luncheon said.

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