Maternal mortality “at highest rate in Portugal for 38 years”

“Obstetric care has to be rethought”

The death of new mothers in Portugal has reached the highest level in the last 38 years.

According to statistics, there were 20.1 deaths per 110,000 births in 2020.

Putting that another way, 17 women died in 2020 due to complications of pregnancy, childbirth and puerperium (the period considered to be six weeks from delivery).

Of these deaths, eight happened during pregnancy, one during childbirth and eight in the puerperium. 

As for the place of death, 13 occurred in health institutions.

According to Jornal de Notícias, the State’s DGS health authority has set up a multidisciplinary committee to study and monitor maternal deaths and serious maternal morbidity.

The committee includes “experts in obstetric, internal medicine, anaesthesiologists, among others”.

One of these is Diogo Ayres-de-Campos, director of gynecology and obstetrics at Lisbon’s Santa Maria Hospital has not minced his words in saying: “Obstetric care, which has deteriorated, needs to be rethought”.

JN cites the DGS as explaining that “priority has been given to coding maternal deaths since the beginning of this year”.

Other factors will include ‘situations’ like age in pregnancy and associated pathologies. But the bottom line is that there has not been this level of maternal mortality since 1982 (when deaths stood at 22.5 in 100,000 live births) – and authorities need to discover why.

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