mEdical INJECTION

Three committees - dealing with maternal mortality, perinatal mortality and infant mortality - were launched yesterday at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park by Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

Three committees - dealing with maternal mortality, perinatal mortality and infant mortality - were launched yesterday at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park by Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

"The improvement of the health of women and children has always been a priority in the healthcare planning of our government," Tshabalala-Msimang said.

While the perinatal and infant mortality committees were new, the maternal mortality committee, already in existence, had new members, the minister said.

Each committee was made up of 15 members who had been chosen to reflect the demographics of the country and various expertises in the health sector.

Tshabalala-Msimang asked each committee to have its first meeting within the next three weeks.

The Cluster: Maternal, Child, Women's Health and Nutrition of the national Department of Health would provide the support and logistics needed for the successful work of the committees.

"While significant progress has been made in addressing the challenges of maternal and infant mortality in the country, we believe there is still more that needs to be done," the minister said.

"These committees would assist in collating and interpreting data, recording the cause of death, the contributing factors, and classify the death accordingly.

"They will make recommendations of the measures that need to be taken to address preventable causes."

This work was "an enormous task" that required dedication on the part of the committee members and cooperation from various role players.

"We need information to filter through from facilities where incidents are first reported up to national level to enable these committees to have the most accurate information to workwith," she said.

This approach should have an effect in improving the quality of healthcare - it was a strong tool for identification of problem areas and it would serve as a source of important data for further policy development and other remedial actions, Tshabalala-Msimang said.

Besides the UK, South Africa was the only other country in the world that had instituted and sustained confidential enquiries into maternal deaths.

"Considerable progress has already been made over the past ten years in determining the causes of maternal mortality," Tshabalala-Msimang said. - Sapa

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