Dr. Chithramalee De Silva, Director of Family Health Bureau (FHB) notified that there has been no increase in maternal mortality in Sri Lanka during the Covid-19 pandemic.
She stated this at the joint media briefing held on Maternal Health services during Covid-19 pandemic at the Department of Government Information. The media briefing was jointly undertaken by the UNICEF and the Ministry of Health to clarify some assertions and media statements publicized by several media outlets regarding maternal mortality in Sri Lanka during the pandemic situation.
Addressing the media briefing, Dr. Chithramalee De Silva said that some media statements have been published in both local and foreign media outlets that maternal mortality in Sri Lanka has been increased during the covid-19 pandemic situation based on a report published by SickKids Centre for Global Child Health and UNICEF. However, she pinpointed that the aforementioned report is based on some estimates of the current situation in Sri Lanka, looking at the data that is available and if the data is not available, some estimates are carried out and based only on those estimated statistics that this report has been published. Thereby, it was based on this report that the media statements regarding the increase of maternal mortality rate in Sri Lanka has been publicized.
The Director further explained the actions taken by the Ministry of Health to reduce the maternal mortality during the Covid-19 pandemic situation; the Health Ministry, Family Health Bureau along with all the development partners and professional colleges initiated a good mechanism to respond to the epidemic to maintain essential maternal and child health services from the beginning of the outbreak in Sri Lanka, developing a set of guidelines on how the maternal child services should to be implemented across the country. These guidelines were sent to all the provincial and regional health directors and hospital directors to minimize the mortality and morbidity rates related to maternal healthcare.
Moreover, she emphasized that, in the wake of the pandemic, the Ministry of Health has rendered a myriad of services including the provision of care for Covid-19 positive pregnant women, newborns and the children, covid-19 suspected women, quarantined women as well as pregnant women who have returned to Sri Lanka from abroad. The Ministry had arranged a total of eight hospitals to provide care for Covid-19 positive pregnant women. These hospitals are equipped with the necessary facilities to manage any emergencies. In every general and provincial general hospital, an isolation center was established to treat covid-19 suspected pregnant women. Within the community level, the public health mid-wives and MOHs have taken efforts to maintain good communication systems with pregnant mothers to identify whether there are any health issues with these mothers.
All these services were provided while protecting the healthcare frontline workers as well as all the officials and staff related to health services and concurrently, keeping the hospitals a safe place for the mothers to visit.
Furthermore, the Director pointed out that the health service sector maintains a strong information system operating from the community level up to the national level where the data related to the number of registered pregnant mothers, number of pregnant mothers visiting the clinics as well as the data on maternal mortality in which there was no increase in maternal deaths reported during the Covid-19 epidemic was conveyed. In addition, Dr. Chithramalee De Silva notified that 130 Covid-19 positive mothers have been reported so far in Sri Lanka.