THERE are five to 10 maternal deaths a year in Fiji.
This was revealed by the Minister for Health, Dr Neil Sharma.
He said the issue of direct maternal deaths was of concern because it was a leading cause of loss of life for pregnant women in Fiji.
"For a direct death, a woman is pregnant, gets sick and dies. Not from pregnancy but from diseases like sexually transmitted infections and other diseases." For a direct maternal death the calculation is by a ratio of 100,000 births.
"We only deliver 20,000 women. So if we have five deaths in 20,000, then its 25 deaths per 100,000 births."
He said the figure sounded big but with only a fifth of the ratio delivered, this meant an average of five deaths for the whole of Fiji.
"Every death is a sad case but a lot of times the death is due to some reason like accidents, diseases like STI like Chlamydia infection. If those women did not have that infection, they might not have died." He said some lives could have been saved but in some cases the responsibility lay with the individuals to educate themselves.
"It's a matter of educating them and taking responsibility too. Although we have a caring role and do our job, sometimes it's not possible."
"It can range from five to 10 deaths on an annual basis in Fiji. So we try and improve the efficiency trainings of doctors and nurses and try to put more equipment into hospitals and health centres. We will try and diagnose the condition and get the patients to the hospitals quicker."
The ministry is already undertaking a food voucher program for rural mothers.
"What happens is they get $30 food vouchers from the hospitals to prevent them from becoming under nourished, give them iron tablets, blood test, scan. At the end of the day, we want a happy outcome."
He said a well and healthy mother could avoid premature labour and delivery.