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‘Doctors share responsibility for rising maternal mortality’

HYDERABAD: Health experts have expressed concern over maternal mortality ratio in Sindh and attributed it to lack of knowledge on the part of doctors at primary health care level as well as the people.

They underscored the need for improving communication skills of doctors to sensitise mothers to their health care issues.

They were speaking at a press conference at a local press club on Wednesday.

Chairperson of the department of gynaecology of Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Jamshoro, Prof Roshan Aara Qazi, in-charge of gynaecology unit 3 Prof Razia Abbasi and in-charge of gynaecology unit-4 Prof Raheel Sikandar talked about rising maternal mortality ratio (MMR).

It should have been reduced as per the millennium development goals (MDGs) which wanted it to be at 140/per 100,000 live births, Prof Qazi said.

“We still receive the same kind of emergency of mothers which we used to see in the 1990s. We still have a long way to go,” she added.

She said that MMR still stood at 260/per 100,000 births in Pakistan. “The situation in Sindh remains alarming where MMR is still touching 340/100,000 birth mark. It is due to improved indicators of Punjab that Pakistan’s MMR is 260/100,000 now from 550/100,000 in 1990.”

She added that it was somewhat better in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but it was too high in Balochistan.

She said that neither MDG 4 about child health care, including improved vaccination coverage, nor the MDG 5 regarding maternal mortality ratio was met.

She added that despite their best efforts, the nature of emergency regarding mothers had not changed.

“That is why an international conference, titled ‘Women’s health in Pakistan: get momentum’ is convened on Dec 25 and before that a full week is being observed for mother’s health care by arranging workshops on important topics.”

She said most patients reached hospital with acute bleeding due to a delay at basic health facility level with the result that the number of operative deliveries had increased.

Prof Dr Raheel Sikandar counted three crucial ‘delays’ in saving life of a mother.

She said delay in decision of family whether to take expecting mother to hospital in absence of her husband or the factor of distance between home and hospital hampered their decision making.

Then there was delay in referring patient from primary health level facility to tertiary hospital.

She said that third delay started from unavailability of doctors, nurses, electricity failure, blood supply and missing staff. “If these delays are overcome, MMR is bound to drop significantly,” she said. She said that doctors working at primary health-care level needed proper training in some basic techniques like resuscitation.