Liberia Loses More Mothers in Childbirth

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Another gloomy news report about the state of Liberia’s health care system has emerged. This time health authorities are saying that out of every 100,000 expectant mothers who go to deliver their babies in Liberia, more than 1000 of them die.

This disclosure was made on Monday, March 23, by Dr. Saye Dahn Bawo, Assistant Health Minister for Curative Service, at the opening of a two-week refresher and reorientation training for retired and new graduate midwives. The seminar, which is ongoing at a local hotel in Monrovia, is sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

As part of the specialized UN Agency’s core mandate, it is leading other UN Agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), into delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

Dr. Bawo, who is also Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Liberia, said: “Right now our maternal mortality rate (MMR) is over 1000 per 100,000.”

According to him, this literally means that if 100,000 women go to give birth, a little over a thousand will die.

He was citing findings from the 2013 Liberia Demographic and Health Survey (LDHS), which was conducted and published by the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS), Ministry of Health (MOH), National AIDS Control Program (NACP) and ICF International, Inc., Maryland, USA.

The latest LDHS report, which is yet to be officially released, says at least 1,072 women die during child birth. This is an increase of 302 deaths, up from 770, which was being reported by the UN Agencies. However, the Liberian Government was still reporting 994 per 100,000 lives birth. The UN praised the Liberian Government for tackling the situation and reducing the figure from 994 to 770. Unfortunately, with the latest report of 1,072, the government has an uphill battle again to ensure that more expectant mothers live.

According to Acting CMO Bawo, there are two indicators to measure a country’s development: “One is the maternal mortality ratio and the other is under five mortality rate.”

For Liberia to be seen as making progress in terms of development, Dr. Bawo stated that it needs to make sure that less number (not specified) of children die per 1000 and also less number of women per 100,000.

He, however, indicated that the latest LDHS report does not only say that more women are dying but also speaks of the government doing “a lot” in improving family planning, nutrition and under five mortality rates.

The refresher training was attended by 35 midwives from Montserrado, Bong, Nimba, Margibi, Grand Bassa and Lofa Counties.

At least 13 of the trainees are retired but are now being called back to give their expertise while the 17 are young midwives, who just graduated from midwifery institutions. 

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