Ireland scores poorly for rates of maternal death
IRELAND has fared poorly in a ranking of countries for maternal deaths and has one of the worst death rates for mothers in Europe.
Ireland ranked just 26th in Europe, denting its reputation as "the safest place in the world to have a baby."
The report from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on the State of World Population, which was launched in Dublin yesterday, found that Ireland had nine maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
In comparison, the best performer Belarus had just one maternal death per 100,000 live births, followed by Israel with two and Poland with three.
However Ireland, which is on par with France, is still considered a safe country in which to give birth and the gap between the Irish rate and the best countries remains relatively low.
European countries with a worse rate include Luxembourg and Estonia which have a rated 11 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
The rate is worse again in Hungary and Kuwait where it is 14 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
The rate in China is 32 per 100,000 live births.
It comes as a review of maternity services is underway nationally - in the wake of a range of tragedies which have come to light in recent years.
An investigation on maternity services in Portlaoise Hospital is currently underway by the Health Information and Quality Authority following revelations a number of babies died in similar circumstances there since 2006.
The review involves interviews and discussions with a range of small and large maternity services and staff working within maternity units as well as front line clinicians, hospital group chief executives, board chairs and patient groups.
A range of site visits to obstetric units is also taking place while the collection of data on maternity service throughput, clinical outcomes, adverse events and staffing profile is also underway.
The HSE has identified a number of extra resources which are needed and has acknowledged the need to hire more midwives, based on the results of a national midwifery workforce planning review.
It is also acknowledged there is a need for more obstetrician posts.
Launching the report in Dublin, Dr Mona Kaidbey, deputy director of UNFPA technical division said: "Ireland achieved a great and successful transformation of its economy in the 1990s.
"Demographic factors played an important role, but it was accompanied by the right health, education and economic policies that took advantage of the demographic forces," she added.