Ministry looks into maternal mortality causes

ONE of the biggest problems Fiji had when primary health care (PHC) was introduced was the increase in maternal mortality and mortalities in children under five years old, says national advisor non-communicable diseases (NCD) Dr Isimeli Tukana.

Dr Tukuna said for maternal mortalities between 1975 to 2000, it was about 120 deaths per 100,000 population in 1975, but dropped to 40 deaths in 2000.

“This is just by improving our maternal and child health services. Looking at nursing stations and health centres, we have programs that look after the mothers and children. Mothers are now delivering at health facilities rather than at home,” he said.

“In terms of infant mortality, in 1975 it was around 35 deaths per 1000 population. But by 2000, it dropped down to 15 deaths.”

He said PHC in the Fijian context was the building of all nursing stations and health centres around the country.

“When it came to PHC in Fiji, it involved health service delivery at nursing stations and health centres in the country,” he said.

“We have around 100 nursing stations and 80 health centres throughout the country.

“The theme for this year is Universal Health Access meaning that all Fijians should have access to health services.

“Structurally, this is how we are developing now. We make health services accessible to the people by building better facilities,” Dr Tukuna said.

He said there was a need to look at new causes for deaths in mothers while giving birth.

“The causes have changed from communicable diseases to NCD’s. The question now is how we improve health services to tackle this,” he said.

On April 7, Fiji celebrated the 40th Anniversary of its adoption of the Alma Ata Declaration on PHC .