More women in Guyana die from pregnancy-related causes for every 100,000 live births, when compared to the global average.
This was uncovered in the 2019 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI) report, which was launched in Bagota, Colombia on Monday.
The report is titled “Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond today: inequalities in human development in the 21st Century.”
The report examines several indicators of human development, including health and gender, and show the impact of these on human welfare.
It revealed that in Guyana, the maternal mortality ratio, or deaths per 100,000 live births, is 229. This exceeds the global average which is 211, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
More shocking is that the regional maternal mortality ratio average is 74 per 100,000 live births.
The UN has said that haemorrhage remains the leading cause of maternal mortality, accounting for over one quarter, or 27 per cent of all deaths. Pre-existing medical conditions – most of which are aggravated by pregnancy, also indirectly cause a similar amount of deaths.
The UN’s ambitious plan is to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.
It was also discovered that 28 per cent of married or in-union women of reproductive age – between 15 and 49 – had an unmet need for family planning.
Despite these worrying disclosures, the report highlighted that overall, Guyana has made a steady improvement in human development, moving from 125 to 123 out of 189 countries evaluated.
This saw a marginal improvement in the Index value, from 0.654 in 2018 to 0.670 this year. The Index, according to the UNDP, is a summary measure for accessing long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.
Further broken down, the area of socio-economic sustainability saw some healthy improvements. It was revealed that 96 per cent of the country’s population is currently using improved drinking-water sources, while 86 per cent of the country’s population is using improved sanitation facilities.
And despite routine electricity woes countrywide, it was highlighted that 88.8 per cent of the country’s rural population has access to electricity, while 33.7 per cent of the country’s 744,000 population uses the internet. For every 100 person, 83 uses a cell phone, the report stated.
On the other hand, the report highlighted some other worrying trends. The first is that suicide rate among men is 46.6 per 100,000 people, while for female it is 14.2 – both of which exceed to global rate of 10.5 per 100,000 people, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In terms of prisoners, it was revealed that for every 100,000 people, 286 are incarcerated, while less than half of the country’s labour force – 42 per cent – remains unskilled.
Further, inequality in income was estimated to be 25.1 per cent, while inequality in education stands at 10.7 per cent. Those two, combined with manifestations of inequality in other areas, results in an 18.5 per cent loss in overall human development, the report stated.
Blaming inequality for continued restrictions in human development, UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner shared at the launch of the report that: “Different triggers are bringing people onto the streets – the cost of a train ticket, the price of petrol, demands for political freedoms, the pursuit of fairness and justice. This is the new face of inequality, and as this Human Development Report sets out, inequality is not beyond solutions.”