Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner (FP)??

Major reductions in perinatal figures at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) have been attributed to the combined effect of a decline in still births and continued reductions in early neonatal mortality rates.

This was revealed today by Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, as she addressed the 5th Annual Perinatal Mortality Conference, in the QEH Auditorium.

While providing an update on perinatal (of or in the weeks shortly before or after birth) mortality in Barbados, Mrs. Sandiford-Garner said that, over a period dating from 1990 to 2008, statistics showed the average perinatal mortality rate to be 19.00 per 1000 births.

She added: "In 2008, there was a slight decrease in the average rate from 23.7 the previous year to 22.3. However, the stillbirth rate had increased from 8.8 per 1,000 in 2007 to 12.6 per 1,000 in 2008."

??Acknowledging that last year’s figures showed a significant decrease with the perinatal mortality rate dropping to 11.8%, Senator Sandiford-Garner said: "The neonatal mortality rates declined, after several years of steady increase and the still birth rate dramatically declined after a spike in 2008."

The Parliamentary Secretary, who has responsibility for the QEH, pointed out that reductions had further to be attributed to "intensive clinical strategies employed to address increases and intensive strategies in monitoring high risk pregnancies".?? She opined: "It is clear that there was a turning point in 2009, and it is hoped that this trend can be maintained."

Noting the timeliness of the conference and its theme, "The Role of Prevention in Reducing Perinatal Morbidity and Mortality", Senator Sandiford-Garner said it reflected the aspirations and goals of health care professionals in providing the highest quality care to Barbadian women and children.

She lauded organisers as well as medical and nursing staff for striving to achieve the relevant Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and for ensuring the highest standard of care for mothers and their young ones.??

The Parliamentary Secretary explained that major changes had been taking place globally, as countries sought to achieve the MDGs in the area of maternal and child health by 2015.?? While noting that perinatal statistics were an important indicator of maternal health and reflected the quality of obstetric and paediatric care, she said, "it is one of the major indicators of a country’s development and health status."

She told her audience that "the need for information and evaluation has become key to tackling any existing maternal and child health problems and reversing the trends seen in individual country statistics."??

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