THE EDITOR: Maternal mortality refers to deaths due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth. In TT, according to UNICEF estimates, instances of maternal mortality between 1990 and 2015 declined approximately 57 per cent – from 23 to 12 deaths.
Even though the levels of maternal mortality had significantly improved, women going to the public hospitals to give birth were openly expressing morbid fear of not coming out alive.
In September 2015, new Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh expressed his vision to further reduce the mortality rate and match it to the standards of developed countries (three-four deaths) by 2020. This would be a challenge as the public health system was already overwhelmed by drug shortages, congested hospitals, and the Zika virus threat.
In 2016 the minister established a committee to consider the issue of maternal and infant mortality. Interestingly, for that year the country’s maternal deaths had been reduced to four.
In 2017 the statistics remained consistent (four deaths) as the minister effectively led the implementation of many short and medium-term preventative policy positions in the health sector.
By adopting a participative leadership style to management, the Health Minister was able to give staff the confidence to contribute to the decision-making process, thereby boosting morale and setting up a cultural environment that was more collaborative and cooperative.
Six months into 2018 and there have been no maternal deaths. Thank God.
I applaud Deyalsingh for his timely intervention in the Ministry of Health and look forward to more positive outcomes such as reduced waiting times and friendly customer service.
Keep up the efficient job you are doing Mr Minister. Our nation is counting on you to keep ahead of schedule.
RAPHAEL JOHN via e-mail