Avoidable death: Dying babies, children and mothers

2009-08-28 00:00

DESPITE the health of women and children being a priority for the democratically elected government, South Africa is one of only 12 countries in the world where the mortality rate for our children has got worse since 1990.

“Each year, an estimated 2 500 mothers die, 20 000 babies are stillborn, another 21 900 die before the age of one and an additional 52 600 die before their fifth birthday, most from preventable and treatable causes,” according to authors Mickey Chopra and colleagues.

HIV/Aids is the biggest killer of both mothers and children. Pregnant HIV-positive women are 10 times more likely to die in, or shortly after, childbirth than HIV-negative women. Infections, mostly HIV/Aids, cause 44% of maternal deaths.

Aside from addressing HIV/Aids, poor health care also contributes to maternal and child deaths.

The latest “Saving Mothers” report (2007 figures) claims that 38% of maternal deaths in the health-care system were “clearly avoidable”. Most were failures in care such as managing post-labour bleeding, hypertension and sepsis.

The deaths of 44% of babies who suffocate in the womb (intrapartum asphyxia) were “probably avoidable”, according to the latest “Saving Babies” report. The deaths of about 1 180 babies in district hospitals of birth trauma and intrapartum asphyxia were “clearly avoidable”, had the health-care provider acted differently.

District hospitals remain the most dangerous places to give birth, with twice as many babies’ deaths than at regional and tertiary hospitals, despite the fact that these hospitals deal with more complicated cases.

Using a special analysis tool called “Lives Saved Tool” (LiSF), the authors estimate that 11 500 newborns could be saved just by ensuring that a comprehensive, essential package of care was implemented properly in 95% of births. This package contains nothing fancy, covering simple things such as proper foetal heart monitoring, antenatal steroids for preterm babies and routine postnatal care.

One of the biggest life-savers would be the proper implementation of prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT), which could save a massive 50 000 babies and children in 2015.

But the PMTCT programme has “suffered from a lack of leadership” and needs to be integrated into an overall care package for mothers and babies.

Implementing the package of care and HIV prevention would cost an estimated 24% of the health budget, or some R15,7 billion. To achieve this package, women would need to pay more visits to health facilities (an increase of 9,4 million visits),.so more staff would be needed.

This accounts for 61% of the cost, as the authors estimate that 189 more doctors, 2 445 professional nurses, 250 enroled nurses and 134 nurse assistants are needed.

The other major costs are more drugs (22%), laboratory tests (five percent) and overheads (12%).

— Health-e News.

• The paper on “Mothers, babies and children” is written by Mickey Chopra, Emmanuelle Daviaud, Robert Pattinson, Sharon Fonn and Joy Lawn. http://press.thelancet.com/saser2.pdf

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.