Letters: No woman should die before, during or after labour

61

Dear editor,

The loss of a life in bringing life to earth should be a shame to every Government which prides itself to be “for the people, of the people and by the people”. In this day and age, with advancement in science and technology, when man has conquered the terrestrial world, no woman should die before, during or after labour.

Unfortunately in The Gambia women of reproductive age are needlessly dying before, during and after child birth. The last time I checked our maternal morbidity was 443/100,000. The numbers may have dropped now. But whatever, damn the statistics.
Even if it is one young lady, it is one too many. The victim is often young or at the prime of life, newly married, looking forward to welcoming a baby and being a new mother, full of life and zest. Life cut short through negligence, lack of necessary support system, lack of blood, poor roads, lack of vehicle, lack of oxygen, lack of electricity.

Health is a right. Life is inviolable. The State has a primary obligation to ensure everyone enjoys the right to the best attainable standard of health. Preventing maternal mortality is an obligation on the State It is non- negotiable.

My dearest Dr. Rama Njie has suggested very doable solutions/recommendations to ameliorate maternal mortality in our country:
“What will it take? As a minimum:

1. The Ministry of Health needs to strengthen the TECHNICAL EXPERTISE at the ministry. This will need major restructuring and downsizing of a very bloated structure and re-directing of scarce resources away from endless workshops and needless travel, targeting donor funds towards health system strengthening, and putting in place a good governance/monitoring and evaluation system.

2. TRAINING, TRAINING and more TRAINING! We need to properly set up an in-country post-graduate training program of specialists, particularly obstetricians, anesthesiologists, Emergency Medicine consultants (plus more midwives), who can provide emergency obstetric care when needed, in a safe, fully equipped environment with blood bank facilities and essential medicines in stock. Many have pledged to support us in this endeavour (WACS, WACP, WHO-AFRO, our Senegalese & Nigerian colleagues, etc etc!). We need to take them up on it!

3. A MEGA PUBLIC EDUCATION DRIVE, to educate the population about the need for EARLY routine antenatal care (as soon as women miss their first period) in order to pick up potential complications early and ensure that women with high risk pregnancies deliver in facilities with the necessary back-up.

It is not rocket science! It only needs POLITICAL WILL, a REJECTION of the status quo and a determination to improve things for our women folk.

How many young lives would have to be lost in child birth for our State to sit up and take action? Certainly it is not about the commitment of our medical officers. That is there in abundance. I know some who would do everything to save a life. So what is the problem? Why are our sisters and mothers dying in giving life?
I say increase the budget of health system. No serious nation would provide bigger budget to Defence or State House at the expense of health. Time would tell about the future of such a state. Achaa rek

Njundu Drammeh
Fajara