SHILLONG: At least 61 pregnant women and 877 newborns have died in Meghalaya in the four months starting from April for want of admission to hospitals and also due to lack of medical attention because of diversion of the health machinery to fight COVID-19 pandemic, a senior health department official said.
The fatalities from April to July this year were due to diseases other than the novel coronavirus.
Newborn deaths were due to lack of medical attention, care, pneumonia and birth asphyxia, Director of Health Services Aman War said.
"It is a matter of concern that the infant and maternal mortality rate has risen sharply as the entire state health machinery is diverted to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, War told reporters Friday.
He said most of the women died because they were not admitted to hospitals or health centres for institutional delivery.
The state has an infant mortality rate of 34 deaths per 1000 live births and pneumonia is the major cause of deaths of babies at birth even as birth asphyxia is another cause, War said.
He said the health department has told hospitals and health centres that they should not refuse admission to patients including pregnant women even if they come from COVID-19 containment zones.
War urged all pregnant women to register with the nearest health centre to enable the department to do contact tracing of their well being and to allow health workers to reach out to them in case they need help and to prevent possible mishaps at childbirths.
The health services director said during the period a total of 10 persons had died due to COVID-19.
"More people have died due to other disease and not COVID-19.
"At least 877 newborns have died at birth and 61 women during childbirth during the period from April to July this year," War said.
There are 12 big hospitals in the state capital, including six privately owned. The state has a total of 28 community health centres and 139 public health centres.
Besides, there is a government-run civil hospital in each of the 11 district headquarters.