Maternal mortality is a major public health problem in Guyana. In the last quarter of 2010, there were eight maternal deaths reported, an unusually high number that brought the total number of women dying as a result of pregnancy to 26 for the year. While there are a number of reasons for these events, many of which are outside of the responsibility of the hospital-based health system, the Georgetown Public Hospital, in seeking to respond to public concern, is currently undertaking concerted efforts to improve maternal and child care, from pregnancy through to neo-natal care.
The GPH is the national referral hospital that provides services free of charge to all Guyanese. It is also the only hospital equipped to provide comprehensive Emergency Obstetric services. For this reason, and also because of limited access to health services in the hinterland areas, pregnant women with difficult obstetric histories and those experiencing complications are routinely referred to the GPH. The Ministry of Health estimates that the GPH handles 60% of all births annually.
Given this mandate and the socio-economic status of the majority of the hospital clientele, the ability of midwives to provide quality care is often constrained by the circumstances of the women presenting for delivery. It is often the case that women come for admission to the labour ward without the basic necessities for the comfort and care of themselves and their newborns. These mothers cannot be turned away and the nurses on the ward must make do with whatever supplies are available. They often try to meet these needs by bringing in supplies paid for out their own pockets.
The Rotary Club of Georgetown executed a project to the GPH with 40 maternal and newborn packages containing essential items in 2012. The distribution of the packages will be administered by the Hospital with oversight from the Rotary Club of Georgetown. The project was supported one of our more significant corporate citizens – Courts Guyana. In the hope of continued assistance to the maternity arm the Club continued the distribution of care packages each year
In the photos below, Club President Ronald Burch-Smith and Rotarian Marilyne Trotz present some of packages to expectant mothers.