Photo exhibition spotlights safe motherhood

The Ministry of Health last week hosted a three-day photographic exhibition at the National Library to heighten awareness of and celebrate the 24th anniversary of the Safe Motherhood Initiative (SMI).

According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release, Amanda Richards, who is a maternal health care-giver, won the national competition highlighting safe motherhood after a regional contest was held. The photos depicted scenes of safe motherhood in various parts of the world.

Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy emphasised that Guyana is committed to and confident of achieving Millennium Development Goals Four and Five, which address the reduction of maternal mortality rates and poverty. However, he acknowledged that there are a number of challenges that must be overcome to meet these goals and noted that there must be a stronger commitment to ensure all tasks regarding them are completed.

Ramsammy said he believes that the world recognises that meeting the human resources requirement is beyond providing mid-wives, but there is a need for obstetricians and gynaecologists. Guyana currently boasts five persons in the obstetrics/gynaecology field. However, there is a need for 30 persons.

The minister indicated that in fulfilling the need, an arrangement is currently being concluded to make available post-graduate training in obstetrics/gynaecology and family medicine to cater to Guyana’s unique population distribution. Nevertheless, continuous training is needed to ensure there are sufficient maternal health care givers in the system.

According to PAHO/WHO Representative Dr Beverley Barnette, the initiative calls for all countries to intensify their efforts to achieve MDG Five, which addresses improvement in maternal health.

“The initiative aims to raise awareness of all the issues surrounding maternal mortality and to get the commitment of all the stakeholders, governments, development partners, civil society and others to takes steps to address this public health challenge, and most of the maternal deaths can be prevented,” she said. Barnette also noted that one of the key achievements of the partnerships is increasing awareness of the many factors relating to improving maternal health, which are a part of the progressive realisation of economic, social, cultural and other human rights which include non-discrimination, participation, and the availability, accessibility, acceptability, and quality of health facilities, goods and services.  “The safe motherhood initiative promotes the right of women, mothers and newborns to attain the highest quality of health in support of the human rights approach to development that is so important to the MDGs, which are all related,” she said.

Director, Maternal and Child Health Dr Janice Woolford emphasised that the concept of safe motherhood means ensuring that all women receive the care they need to be safe and healthy through pregnancy and child birth.

It also promotes healthy families. Woolford noted that the pillars of safe motherhood include preconception care, prenatal /antenatal, care of high risk pregnancies, clean and safe delivery and postnatal care.  She also explained that most women’s first contact with the health system is when they are pregnant and this gives health care workers the opportunity to address other reproductive health issues.

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