The death of any pregnant woman is a tragedy for both her loved ones and her caregivers. In 2011 following the death of Mrs. Crystal Boodoo Ramsoomair in childbirth, then Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar commissioned a report to review the maternity services in Trinidad and Tobago. The Maternity Services Review Committee which was comprised of independent, experienced professionals and experts in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology gathered data from healthcare providers throughout the country over an 18 month period. The Report of the Committee, including its many recommendations, were presented to the Minister of Health in May 2013.￼
Over the past five (5) years several of the recommendations in this report have been implemented across the nation’s hospitals and this has undoubtedly improved the quality and safety of care for pregnant women and their babies. The creation of a Directorate of Women’s Health in 2017 was one of the recommendations coming out of the report.
The recent unfortunate death of Ms. Maquader Martin after giving birth at the San Fernando General Hospital highlights the fact that much more work needs to be done.
While it is important that the SWRHA and the Ministry of Health conduct its own investigation to ascertain what went wrong, it is equally important that the public is assured that there is no cover-up, as is often alleged by grieving relatives.
One of the mechanisms that can be employed to ensure transparency and gather useful information from every maternal death is the examination of the circumstances of each such event by an independent body. The intelligence gathered from such enquiries when shared with caregivers and other healthcare providers will enable them to improve their service to the benefit of patients and the nation.
The creation of an independent national committee for confidential enquiry into maternal mortality is one of the recommendations of the Maternity Review Services Committee that is yet to be implemented. It is envisaged that this committee/commission will comprise independent professionals whose only interest will be fact-finding and the improvement of patient care.
I call upon the Minister of Health to consider the implementation of this recommendation as a matter of urgency.