Guyana records decline in infant mortality rate – Health Minister

– says 6 infants die per year with over 6000 deliveries

A lot of progress has been made in Guyana over the last few years, as the country is now seeing a sharp decline in its infant mortality rate, according to Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony.
Dr Anthony stated that over 6000 births are recorded per year, of which six deaths are recorded.
“That’s an improvement because in the past it used to be a much higher number. Overall, in the country infant and neonatal mortality… would be around 30 or so, and at the GPHC that is being reduced to six deaths per thousand. So, that is a significant reduction,” he said.
He said this is so that they can further reduce infant death in the country. In terms of maternal mortality, the Minister said that the country is still battling that issue. He said at some hospitals, there are still maternal deaths that can be avoided.
“We have what is called a neonatal intensive care unit that was set up, we have trained doctors that would be able to man that unit, we have specialised equipment there that can help the babies to breathe and to keep them warm.”
“Babies that would have previously died, because of the interventions that we are making, they are able to survive. We have a NICU at Georgetown Hospital, and we are building them out in other hospitals like New Amsterdam, West Demerara, in Suddie, and in Linden and so forth,” he explained.
He said this is so that they can further reduce infant death in the country.
“In the interior, one of the biggest challenges that we have had is that mothers will get to the hospital late. And, very often when they start getting signs of labour, then that is when they will try and get to the hospital…”
“One of the interventions that we are doing now, especially in the interior communities, is that next to the regional hospitals, we are building waiting for homes…”.
Dr Anthony added this will help to make sure that there is a safe environment for expecting mothers, and will help in the reduction of deaths.
Just recently, healthcare workers in Guyana commenced neonatal resuscitation training to reduce Guyana’s neonatal mortality rate.
This was in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
At the launching ceremony that was held earlier this week, Maternal and Child Health Officer, Dr Oneka Scott related that it is the period after a child is born that determines the neonatal mortality rate. She described this period as the “Golden Minute” and explained that everything done at that moment determines whether or not a child lives.
“If that baby is born and within the first minute and doesn’t breathe, then we have to start breathing for that child. It is this period, immediately after birth, that determines whether or not our neonatal mortality will be reduced.”
“If we are able to prepare our healthcare workers to master this ‘Golden Minute,’ to react quickly, to respond with stimulation and warmth, and bagging masks if needed after thirty seconds, then we are able to prepare an army of saviours,” Dr Scott said.
Meanwhile, Dr Anthony explained that the training intends to better equip healthcare workers with the skills and knowledge aimed at reducing the rate of infant mortality.
“One of the things that we want to do is to make sure that we can reduce mortality, more so, more specifically, neonatal mortality,” the Health Minister said.
The programme is expected to help healthcare workers identify the risk factors associated with neonatal mortality. Once understood, this would enable them to save lives.