BELIZE CITY, Wed, Jan. 5, 2022– Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Belize, a total of 600 expecting mothers have been infected with the COVID-19 virus at some point during their pregnancy. Of that number, a total of eight maternal deaths caused by COVID-19 were recorded. Dr. Natalia Beer, the technical advisor for Maternal and Child Health in Belize, says that a total of 17 maternal deaths were recorded for 2021.
At this time, the Ministry of Health and Wellness recommends that couples who want to avoid a pregnancy and the risks involved at this time should use the contraceptive methods available in the country. She said that there are many options available — some of which do not require any out-of-pocket payment.
“I think the worst-case scenario is the death of a woman not wanting to get pregnant, that got pregnant, got complicated, and dying. So, if we were to remove the COVID-19, we obviously would not have seen much change between 2020 and 2021, but COVID-19 again is a vaccine-preventable disease, but yet we are struggling to get pregnant women vaccinated,” Dr. Beer said.
She explained that pregnant women are at triple risk of complications due to the pandemic.
“Pregnant women have a higher risk of presenting blood clots, a person undergoing a surgical procedure has a greater risk of presenting blood clots, and then the COVID-19 illness comes with this high risk for the formation of blood clots also. So, it makes it difficult, and we still have a low number of pregnant women getting vaccinated,” Dr. Beer said.
The Health Ministry has secured access to anticoagulants to give to pregnant women due to the triple risk of blood clot formation at this time.
Dr. Beer pointed to “more family planning, more access to pre-conception care, and adhering to the recommendations,” as key measures in the prevention of maternal deaths at this time.