Former Opposition Shadow Minister of Health Dr Maria Agard has said she was saddened but not surprised by reports of two recent maternal deaths at the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).
In fact, she said it was a tragic reminder that Barbados is slipping on a number of critical fronts.
She pointed to the findings of the 2013 UNICEF State of the World’s Children’s Report in which Barbados registered 51 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, its highest in 20 years.
That report also notes that the island’s mortality rate for under five rose to 20 deaths per 1000, and that its rate of infant mortality jumped to 18 deaths per 1000, the highest recorded rates for these two categories in 25 years.
Dr Agard, who had previously highlighted these statistics in Parliament and had also called on Minister of Health John Boyce to take urgent action on the matter, emphasized that the island had fallen 42 places, from 140 to 98, on the under five mortality rate scale, which is one of the sharpest declines for all registered countries.
The MP for Christ Church West further pointed out that the neo natal mortality rate had risen to ten in 2011 up from seven in 2009.
And though she was not desirous of creating national panic, she urged health authorities to come up with a comprehensive plan to stop the bleeding.
“Certainly when they [UNICEF] say that we have had one of the sharpest declines for the period stated in 25 years, even then that should have been our wake up call,” she told Barbados TODAY.
“I am not for one moment even suggesting that there will not be patient deaths at the QEH. Understandably, there will be, but I don’t think that we should wait until there is sensation to do the due diligence,” she warned.
Dr Agard, who had called on December 20, 2013 for current statistics to be made available for analysis as urgently as possible, said, “it would serve our purposes in Barbados to look very critically at these figures and to do the necessary due diligence that we can search for answers and we take the necessary remedial action to ensure that our state of affairs does not decline any further.
“It ought not to be a knee jerk reaction but we need to have a systematic probe into what is happening because if it is that in 2010 there were 51 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births and that that is the highest it had been in 20 years, from back then, there should have been the necessary probe to ascertain why this was happening and to address the situation,” she told Barbados TODAY. (KJ)