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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Health Minister says maternal mortality numbers overstated

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By Omar Bah

Reacting to concerns raised by Gambians about the number of women dying while giving birth, the Minister of Health Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh told lawmakers yesterday that “comparatively Gambia is not doing so badly” arguing that maternal mortality is on the decline in the country.

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Scores of Gambians marched on Wednesday to call for more action from the government against maternal mortality as another protest is planned for today.

Minister Samateh said: “It is important to note that in this country, maternal mortality has been on the decline, notwithstanding the perception of the rise in maternal mortality. It is important to emphasize that it is actually on the decline based on what had been happening in the previous years.”

“The figures below corroborate these findings: in 2013 according to the demographic health survey, there were 433 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Now when you go to 2014, it was 208 [death]; 2015, 250 [deaths] per 100,000 live births; 2016, 195 [deaths]; 2017, 236 [deaths]; 2018, 283 [deaths]; 2019, 221 [deaths] per 100,000 live births; and as we speak based on the figures already gathered up to September this year, it is a 169 [deaths] per 100,000 live births.”

Samateh said Gambia is doing relatively better compared to African countries like Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Mali.

“This is not by any way trying to justify any maternal mortality but it is important to know what prevailed elsewhere. For instance in Senegal, 315 deaths per 100, 000 live births, Guinea Bissau, 667 per 100, 000 live births, Sierra leone, 1360 per 1000, 000 live births, Mali, 562 per 100, 000 live births and Nigeria they have 917 deaths per 100, 000 live births,” Samateh said.

The health minister further told lawmakers: “The main causes of maternal mortality in The Gambia are pregnancy induced hypertension (18pc) haemorrhage that’s bleeding (11pc) anaemia (11pc) sepsis that’s infection (1pc) and the remaining are due to other causes including indirect causes such as diabetes in pregnancy, heart failure etc.”

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