Ebola health worker deaths could lead to rise in maternal mortality in West Africa

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Two midwives in Ebola protective gear supplied by UNFPA hand over a newborn to her mother at the Star of the Sea Clinic in West Point, Monrovia, Liberia. UNFPA Liberia File Photo.

The loss of health workers to Ebola could lead to a sharp increase in maternal mortality in three West African countries, according to a World Bank report.

It says an additional 4,000 women in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone could die as a result of complications in pregnancy and childbirth because they won't have access to skilled medical personnel.

This means maternal deaths in these countries could rise to rates last seen two decades ago.

Dianne Penn has the story.

The report said the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could leave a legacy of death and disability beyond that caused by the outbreak of the disease itself.

In Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, health workers have already died from Ebola at a higher rate than any other population group.

The impact is being felt as these countries already had very few trained doctors, nurses and midwives, to begin with.

For example, the report said Liberia only had about 50 doctors but has lost about 10 per cent of them to Ebola.

To save lives, the report recommends urgent investment in the health systems in these countries, starting with a "substantial increase" in the number of trained workers.

An International Ebola Recovery Conference will be held at the UN in New York on Friday.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 52″


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