Fuad: Infant mortality high
By JANELLE DE SOUZA Tuesday, October 15 2013
HEALTH Minister Fuad Khan yesterday admitted that maternal and infant mortality rates in this country were not “the best” and his Ministry is attempting to address the issue. “We have tried and we are trying our best to decrease our maternal mortality rates and our infant mortality rates. We are reaching somewhere but not as good as we would like to be,” speaking at the Fifth Meeting of World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care (GIEESC) at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain.
Khan noted that the Ministry has been trying to decrease the rates through several methods, including upgrading the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) at hospitals. According to Khan, the Ministry was in the process of planning a new NICU at the back of the Women’s Hospital of the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope to increase the efficiency.
He also said if the National Insurance Property Development Co Ltd (NIPDEC) allows it, he also hopes to build a two-storey structure to the left of the hospital for clinics.
In addition to upgrading the NICUs, Khan believed it was necessary to educate mothers regarding antenatal care. He advised that mothers regularly go for such care, without which, he said there was increased possibility of infant mortality.
“We had the UNICEF people here last week looking at our infant mortality rates and how best we could deal with it so, in fact, what we’re pushing forward is that aspect of it — how to prevent it rather than how to manage it,” he stated.
Speaking to reporters after the opening, Khan revealed that incidences of Swine Flu had decreased. “What people were experiencing was the normal, common cold — the influenza virus — however you would get some people having a positive serology of H1N1 but that will not mean to say that they succumb to it,” he said.
Khan said because of the cases of H1N1 in Barbados, he had to make the resurgence of the virus known to the public. He said the high risk persons, such as obese persons and persons with respiratory illnesses, had been cared for and noted that the panic at hospitals and health centres, produced by the announcement of the virus, had decreased significantly. He said the Ministry had distributed 20,000 vaccines which would be used for high risk persons.
“You have about a year’s coverage and a residual effect of about another year and viruses are always mutating so we may get a vaccine today and need another vaccine in two years time. It’s only for the high risk people who the doctors decide, would need that,” he explained. Khan also spoke about the development of an “accreditation system” of programmes and institutions. He noted that all new hospitals being built would be up to international accreditation standards, and would be accredited first. He hoped this would develop educational tourism, where international students would be encouraged to study medicine in the country.
Khan noted that the Ministry was already having discussions to develop specialised curriculum and training methods with the University of the West Indies (UWI) to start the process in Trinidad, and is hopeful of holding discussions with the University of Trinidad and Tobago as well.
“The world has a shortage of specialists... There are very few specialists places, so if we could produce the specialisation at home, we could actually import specialists if necessary,” he said. Addressing sanitation and service issues at the San Fernando General Hospital, Khan stated that some persons who complain about the clinic or surgical service wait could be better served at a health office. “That is why I am trying to push that area of primary health care so we will be able to see more patients in the periphery and less in the hospital — only emergencies,” he said.