Hypertension, blood loss major causes of maternal deaths at GPHC – senior doctor

High incidences of postpartum haemorrhaging and gestational hypertension were yesterday cited as the primary reasons for maternal deaths in Guyana.

Speaking at a media breakfast hosted by the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Head of the Maternity Ward at the Georgetown Public Hospital, Dr Lucio Pedro said that as at August there had been 3,280 deliveries at the GPHC and 9 maternal deaths.

Pedro said that while infections also contributed to the deaths, bleeding after the birth of the baby (postpartum haemorrhaging), preeclampsia and eclampsia (high blood pressure and seizures as a result of high blood pressure) were the cases he saw more often at the GPHC.

Dr Lucio Pedro
Dr Lucio Pedro

As regards haemorrhaging, the doctor said the hospital faces a challenge acquiring blood for patients. “Blood is scarce. People do not want to donate blood as they think if they donate blood something will happen to them… We have very big challenges with that,” Pedro said. He took the opportunity to encourage people to donate blood as it could save a life. He said that when blood had to be requested, by the time it became available it was usually too late.

In the case of eclampsia, which is the onset of seizures in a patient with preeclampsia, the doctor said patients mostly die if not attended to immediately.

Pedro also mentioned other factors which can lead to maternal death. He noted that the terrain in the country was one such factor. When women from out-of-town areas are referred to the GPHC, getting there can be difficult. The doctor cited the case of a woman from Suddie Hospital on the Essequibo Coast He said she had to be transported by boat, which is usually a rough ride and then vehicle to the GPHC. The doctor said by the time the woman reached the hospital she was dead.

Another factor, he said, was that some women tended to delay before making a decision to go to the hospital. Pedro also pointed to older women, who because of their ages were automatically high risk cases.

Pedro said that every country in the world has maternal deaths and Guyana is no exception but women should take precautions.

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