HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh says the Couva Children’s Hospital cannot be used in efforts to improve the infant mortality rate, because it does not have a neonatal unit. He made the comment while responding to a question for oral answer in the Senate yesterday.
The question, posed by Opposition Senator Wade Mark, who was out of the country, was what measures were being taken to reduce the high incidence of infant mortality, given recent reports of this country’s high infant mortality rate compared to international standards.
Deyalsingh reported according to data from the Central Statistical Office the infant mortality rate had declined significantly, from 24.2 per 1,000 live births in 2002 to 12.7 per 1,000 live births in 2012, representing a decrease of 47.5 per cent. He said a 2018 UNICEF report estimated the mortality rate in this country at 12.6 per 1,000 live births.
He reported the World Factbook for 2017 estimated infant mortality rates in other developing and developed countries as: 12.7 for Jamaica; 10.9 for St Lucia; 10.2 for Barbados; 12.1 for the British Virgin Islands; 9.2 for Thailand; 4.5 for Canada; and 3.6 for Switzerland. “In light of the above, TT infant mortality rates and ranking is not significantly higher than regional and even developed countries, as it is close to single digits.”
Deyalsingh then listed a number of measures that had been undertaken and were ongoing by the health ministry to substantially reduce the current rate to single digits, in keeping with the target outlined under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including:
Upgrading the neonatal unit at Port of Spain General Hospital during 2016 and 2017; opening the new wing and temporary labour ward at the San Fernando General Hospital, including six new neonatal intensive-care beds in 2017; capacity at the Neonatal Care Unit at Scarborough General Hospital in 2017; the start and construction of new maternity ward at SFGH in 2018; and establishing a neonatal unit at the Sangre Grande Hospital, to be fully operational this year.
Other measures included buying transport incubators in 2017 and training staff in updated standardised protocols and emergency care and resuscitation. Opposition Senator Khadijah Ameen asked whether the Couva Children’s Hospital would be used by the ministry in achieving this sustainable development goal.
Deyalsingh said: “It is hypocritical to ask about the attainment of SDGs when those in power between 2010 and 2015 did nothing to achieve...the Millennium Development Goals, which spoke to (improving) our infant mortality rates by 2015. We are paying attention to all of these things.