Community Health Workers being trained to reduce maternal, neonatal deaths

In hinterland region

Twenty Community Health Workers (CHWs) of Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) are embarking on training to deliver improved maternal and child health services in the Region. The training is made possible through an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loan, which was granted to the Government of Guyana in February 2017. The $8 million loan will be utilised to generally improve the level of reproductive healthcare delivery in Guyana.

Dr. Ertenesia Hamilton, Director, Maternal and Child Health, Ministry of Public Health

Over the next five years, the reproductive, neonatal and maternal health services in Regions Three, Four and Nine will be strengthened, while the overall healthcare network will be reinforced. The Maternal and Child Health Programme is exploring an initiative called the “safe motherhood” plan.
Director of the Maternal and Child Health Programme of the Public Health Ministry, Dr Ertenesia Hamilton said, “In looking at the situation which exists in Guyana, it was recognised that all of our maternal deaths that we had over the last 10 years could be grouped under three main headings.” These she outlined as the three ‘delay’ models – delay in seeking care, delay in reaching care and delay in receiving care.
Region Nine, the only hinterland region to be covered by the loan, has faced many challenges within the health sector, hence it being selected to pilot the project. More specifically, issues relating to maternal and child health are the main objective.
Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence told the CHWs awaiting training that they would be responsible for a reduction in maternal and neonatal mortality in the Region.
“You represent the various communities in Region Nine and are, therefore, well placed to respond to the needs of the people. In administering the programme within the Region, the curriculum, which is designed to cover all pertinent aspects of maternal and reproductive health and childcare, the finished product…you are going to help us to reduce the mortality rate in this Region.”
The Minister quoted statistics from the IDB which indicated that Guyana was among those countries in the Caribbean and Latin America to record high rates of mortality in neonates and pregnant mothers
“The estimated figures revealed that (in Guyana) there is 121 per 100,000 live births and 23 per 1000 live births respectively, this is by the IDB 2016 report,” Minister Lawrence stated.
She further explained that the country has a commitment to achieve goal number five of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which seeks to reduce the maternal mortality ratio and achieve universal access to reproductive health care.
Further, the Minister pointed out that the landscape in this particular region differed from that in the other two regions catered for under this project. She advocated for the relevant authorities to consider having the main access roads from North to Central Rupununi and South to Central Rupununi upgraded.
Most of the maternal deaths recorded in the Region were as a result of poor access to health-care facilities. The main access roads as they are in the Rupununi are considered rough terrain for pregnant women to traverse whether by ambulance or hired transportation, Minister Lawrence said.
At the end of the training the CHWs could be likened to nurses and midwives within the respective areas. They will be trained for six months. The first four months will cater for theoretic training while the other two months will have them engaged as Preceptors.
The training will focus on areas of personal hygiene and environmental health, basic anatomy and physiology, clinical practice procedures, maternal and child health among other relevant areas.
According to the former Director of Health Sciences and Education Faculty, Public Health Ministry, Wilton Benn, “the programme itself is structured in such a way that we place emphasis on prevention of illness, the promotion of health and the treatment of simple common illnesses based on protocol.”
The Department of Public Information said the CHW trainees were expected to graduate in March 2018.