Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Maternal mortality continues to be unacceptably high in Caribbean and Latin America

On average, approximately 16 women die every day in the Caribbean and Latin America from complications of pregnancy or childbirth, while 250 babies die each day before having reached 28 days of age.

Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) has launched the new CLAP Network of Latin American and Caribbean Centres for Maternal Surveillance and Research on Women's and Neonatal Health to gather information on the causes of these deaths and contribute to policies for their prevention.

"Maternal mortality has been reduced considerably in the last 20 years, but it continues to be unacceptably high, and the majority of its causes can be prevented or treated," said Suzanne Serruya, Director of the Latin American Centre for Perinatology, Women and Reproductive Health (CLAP/WRH) of PAHO/WHO, during the launch of the new network in Brasilia.

The new CLAP Network will play an important role in helping to further reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in the region by collecting data on the causes of maternal and neonatal death as well as on the causes of complications that leave women seriously affected following childbirth.

Maternal and newborn health are closely intertwined. Approximately two out of three neonatal deaths occur during the first week of life, and the main causes include prematurity, congenital anomalies, asphyxia, sepsis and other infections.

Pablo Duran, regional advisor on perinatal health at CLAP/WHR, noted that since 1990 the number of newborns who die in the first month of life has declined by 55 per cent in the region.

"But we should make more efforts to prevent these deaths and conditions such as prematurity, retinopathy and asphyxia that can impact negatively on health and quality of life," Duran said, adding that "The CLAP Network will help assess the use and impact of cost-effective interventions and will monitor conditions that help reduce preventable deaths and that affect the quality of life of newborns.

The CLAP Network builds on a collaborative effort in which 22 institutions in 12 Latin American countries began in 2012 to use a new component of the Perinatal Clinical History, which contains data on pregnant women and their children from the first prenatal visit until after delivery. The new component, introduced into the Perinatal Information System, makes it possible to monitor severe maternal health events. The CLAP Network will now try to expand that collaboration to more institutions and countries.

More than 50 hospitals, health institutes, universities and WHO Collaborating Centres in over 25 countries of the Americas have been invited to become part of the new network.

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