Foreign births affect the Dominican health care system

Dr. Mario Lama said yesterday that the births of foreign mothers put a great strain on the Dominican health system.

When approached by journalists, the head of the National Health Service (SNS), informed that the country offers medical attention to a large number of immigrant laboring women, especially those of Haitian origin.

“We have hospitals where the occupation of beds is equal to that of nationals, and there are hospitals where the percentage of births exceeds that of Dominicans,” he said.

He said that last year alone, 30,000 births to foreign mothers were registered, which in his opinion, represents a problem for the economic part of the health centers because they are patients who do not pay contributions.

He added that the hospitals have a deficit of income and this has repercussions in a reduction of the quality of the services, indicating that without the correct profitability it is not possible to supply all the demands of a health establishment.

The official spoke in these terms, while heading the launching of a new program that seeks to reduce perinatal asphyxia and maternal morbidity.

According to the physician, this health condition represents the third cause of death in newborns in the Dominican Republic.

According to the specialist, the national public network hospitals registered 843 cases of asphyxia in 2019, for 1.25 percent.

He explained that the high incidence of perinatal asphyxia cases, their sequelae and morbimortality situations in the mother, was the motivation to prioritize the issue and create conditions to reduce the indicators in healthcare centers.

“We are going to improve the quality of care, train our healthcare personnel, hire more specialists, acquire new equipment and whatever is necessary to change this reality that affects so many women and that in many cases could be avoidable,” he said.

He pointed out that the first phase of the project will be carried out in the most affected centers, which are the Nuestra Señora de La Altagracia, La Mujer Dominicana, Reynaldo Almánzar and San Lorenzo de Los Mina maternity hospitals, as well as in the municipal hospitals of Boca Chica, Yamasá, Engombe, El Almirante and Villa Mella.

The Neonatal Obstetric Alliance for the Reduction of Perinatal Asphyxia and Extreme Maternal Morbidity also seeks to establish a network for the transfer of newborns in their first hours of life to a hypothermia machine.

What is perinatal asphyxia?

Health specialists define perinatal asphyxia as the cessation of gas exchange either at the pulmonary or placental level, in the immediate period before, during or after birth. This health condition can cause a severe lack of oxygen to the infants’ brains resulting in damage to the infants’ brain cells, as well as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, cerebral palsy and seizures.

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