WASHINGTON, DC, CMC – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says it has launched an initiative to help prevent maternal deaths from haemorrhage in the Caribbean.
PAHO said one in five maternal deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean results from haemorrhage during the third trimester of pregnancy or immediately following childbirth.
It said at least 16 women die daily in the region from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth, most of which are preventable and that haemorrhage is the leading cause of these deaths.
Overall, PAHO said an estimated 8.2 percent of mothers who give birth in the region suffer a severe postpartum haemorrhage that requires transfusion.
The “Zero maternal deaths from haemorrhage” initiative, which is initially being implemented in five countries, consists of a series of actions to improve both access to health services for pregnant women and the quality of care for women with hemorrhagic complications from pregnancy.
The project comprises training for health professionals in how to reduce the number of hemorrhages and how to ensure timely and effective treatment for cases that do occur; equipment for use in training these professionals; and support for health services reorganization to improve care for women, reduce gaps in access to quality services, and ensure the availability of essential medicines and safe blood for transfusions.
The initiative, initially budgeted at just over US$1.8 million, is currently being implemented in Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, and Peru. These countries have the region’s highest high maternal mortality rates and where haemorrhage is the main cause of maternal death, PAHO said.
It said Guyana, Honduras, Mexico and Paraguay have also expressed interest in participating.
PAHO, together with its partners, the Latin American Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FLASOG) and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), so far has trained health professionals from eight countries on prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of obstetric hemorrhage.
Between 1990 and 2010, PAHO said maternal mortality declined 43 percent in Latin America and 30 percent in the Caribbean.
However, progress has been insufficient to achieve the 75 percent maternal mortality reduction target set by the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for 2015.
“We still have a way to go to achieve the goal of zero maternal deaths,” said PAHO Dominican-born Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne.
“As we embark on the new, post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, women’s health must remain an essential focus to ensure a healthy and productive future, not only for women, but also for their children, families and countries.”