Gynecology college to offer quality maternal healthcare

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Some of the 10 Rwandan doctors who graduated in obstetrics and gynaecology pose for a group photo during the regional conference of obstetricians and genaecologists last week. / Queen Ingabire

A college to train healthcare providers who attend to mothers has been launched in Kigali. 

The East, Central and Southern African College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, will every year, on average, be training about 10 people from each of the association’s 10 member countries, according to its vice president, Eugène Ngoga. 

Experts in obstetrics and gynecology said that the college is one of the means to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) whereby the world targets to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100 000 live births between 2016 and 2030. 

The College whose headquarters will be in Arusha, Tanzania, was launched this week, during a Joint Conference of the East, Central and Southern African Association of Obstetrical and Gynecological societies (ECSAOGS) and the 5th Rwanda Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RSOG) annual Scientific Conference in Kigali. 

The three-day conference was held under the theme “Ending Preventable Maternal, Neonatal and Gynaecological Deaths through Improved Health Providers Knowledge, Competency and Research.” 

Speaking to Sunday Times at the event Dr. Eugène Ngoga said that there might be a training centre in each of the member countries. 

“Nobody wants a mother to die; nobody wants a baby to die. The College is there also to address these issues on how to attend to emergencies so that we don’t have more mothers dying especially through preventive measures,” he said noting that the key priority was quality education.

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Sonoscape - ultrasound machine that uses high-frequency sound waves to look at organs and structures inside the body, and Medical Trolley that will be used in the college. / Queen Ingabire

The problem

According to the World Health Organisation, maternal mortality is unacceptably high. About 830 women die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications around the world every day. It was estimated that in 2015, roughly 303,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth. 

On average, 542 mothers out of 100,000 live births died in 2015, according to statistics from WHO; while the global average is 216 deaths per 100,000. Almost all of these deaths occurred in low-resource settings, and most could have been prevented, WHO says. 

The primary causes of death are haemorrhage, hypertension, infections, and indirect causes, mostly due to interaction between pre-existing medical conditions and pregnancy. Of the 830 daily maternal deaths, 550 occurred in sub-Saharan Africa and 180 in Southern Asia, compared to 5 in developed countries. 

The risk of a woman dying from a maternal-related cause during her lifetime in a developing country is about 33 times higher than one living in a developed country. 

As per the Demographic Health Survey, maternal mortality ratio in Rwanda declined from 476 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010 to 210 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015.  
 
The Minister of State in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Patrick Ndimubanzi, said initiatives that had contributed much to that development were community health workers who did an excellent job by identifying pregnant women, sensitizing them and bringing them to the clinics to give birth in the presence of a skilled medic. 

According to him, it is through improved competence and knowledge that the prevention of maternal deaths can be achieved, encouraging research as a critical component to attain this target.   

“The creation of the regional college of paediatrics and gynaecology will provide a platform where our specialists will acquire more knowledge and competency in order to better serve mothers and new-borns,” he said. 

Prof. Khama Rogo, a lead health specialist and head for Health in Africa Initiative at the World Bank Group, challenged the college to start admitting students as early as January 2018, noting that there will be only 12 years to go before the SDGs achievement deadline of 2030. 

He noted that if one looked at the distribution of professional healthcare providers, mostly are urban, and their influence and impact in rural areas where the majority of the people live is not satisfactory. 

“If 2018 is the starting point, then, in 2023, we shall have members of this project providing care to the women in this part of the world. The more you delay, the few they will be,” he said. 

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