$17M maternity waiting home commissioned at Annai

─Another step towards preserving the lives of expectant mothers

DPI, Guyana, Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Yvonne Jacobus Maternity Waiting Home in Annai was officially commissioned and will strategically serve expectant mothers in the North Rupununi district. The facility can house seven mothers at a time.

Costing approximately $17Million for infrastructure and furnishing, the waiting home stands near the Annai Health Centre and is expected to bridge the gap for expectant mothers in accessing maternity services especially as they near their due date for delivery.

The Waiting Home has individual rooms, a kitchenette, washroom and bathroom facilities, a sitting area and an examining room which the doctor stationed at the Annai Health Centre will utilise to conduct regular check-ups for the mothers staying at the home. Among other amenities included to make the facility more homely are hammocks for the mothers to relax in the porch area provided.

The waiting home was named after a resident of Aranaputa Yvonne Janet Jacobus, a midwife who has served the people of the North Rupununi for over 50 years. Her work in the area of nursing and midwifery is a testament to the vision being fulfilled of ensuring Indigenous women have a fair chance at pre and post-natal care and safe deliveries. Jacobus retired in 2007 but still served as a midwife in the district up until she became ill and died earlier this year.

At the official commissioning ceremony, Minister of Public Health, the Hon. Volda Lawrence and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs the Hon. Sydney Allicock both commended the work of Nurse Jacobus and stated that the naming of the home in her honour is most fitting as it embraces the legacy she has left behind.

They both noted that the government’s commitment to bridging the gap between coastal and hinterland healthcare continues to materialise in many different forms. Further, this maternity waiting home showcases governments unwavering determination at catering to the needs of the country’s Indigenous women.

Minister Lawrence said after taking into consideration the high rates of the maternal deaths in past years, the Public Health Ministry conducted an assessment to determine where the deaths were located and what were the major causes, to address the issue realistically.

“No woman should lose her life, giving birth… We recognise also that coupled with all of those medical things that have been happening (high blood pressure and haemorrhaging) is that of access to health services,” Minister Lawrence said.

According to the Public health Minister, an IDB loan was acquired to fund targeted interventions in reducing Maternal deaths in Regions 3, 4, and 9. To date, the loan has funded training for more than 40 Community Health Workers (CHW) in Region 9 with a special focus in the area of primary health care and maternal and child health. A maternity waiting home at Lethem has also been refurbished and is expected to undergo further upgrades.

A section of the Amerindian hostel in Princes Street Georgetown has also been refurbished and designated to house pregnant Indigenous women. Meanwhile upgraded equipment is regularly provided to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation’s maternity unit to render precise and quality services to mothers. Also, in Region 3, a maternity ward is being established and equipped so that mothers in that region would not have to travel to West Demerara Regional Hospital or GPHC to be guaranteed safe delivery.

With these measures in place, Minister Lawrence said the ministry has recorded a steady decline in maternal deaths however she assured that more will be done until the death rate is brought down to zero.  “Therefore, work will intensify in these regions while other hinterland regions are being targeted,” she stated.

Minister Allicock noted that these are steps towards preserving the life of Indigenous women. “This will not be the only activity that we will collaborate with the Ministry of Public Health on; we will continue to join forces to put together many other initiatives that will benefit the indigenous peoples of Guyana.”

Expectant mothers who are already being housed at the facility commended the initiative noting that it is more convenient for those mothers who wish to have their deliveries done at the Annai Health Centre instead of embarking on a rough and lengthy journey to the Lethem Regional hospital.

Annai’s Toshao, Zacharias Norman also said he is pleased with the prompt response by the government since the suggestions for the establishment of a waiting home and the provision of an ambulance made at the last NTC meeting have been fulfilled.

Also attending the commissioning of the waiting home were Permanent Secretary of the MoPH, Colette Adams, Regional Executive Officer, Carl Parker, Chairperson of the North Rupununi District Development Board, Jaqueline Allicock, Regional Health Officer, Dr. Naail Uthman, many villagers of Annai and Doctor in Charge of Annai’s Health Centre, Dr. Gillian Joseph who chaired the ceremony’s proceedings.