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Savita only maternal death recorded in Ireland in 2012

June 06, 2013 22:09 IST

Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country, has recorded the death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar as the only maternal casualty in 2012, which a new report has found was not true.

The latest annual report of Ireland's Central Statistics Office for 2012 records only one maternal death during the year, that of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar, while at least five other fatalities were reported by maternity units.

The lack of accuracy has been blamed on limited sources and reliance on death certificates for information without contacting hospitals, a spokesperson told the 'Irish Independent'.

The death of 31-year-old Halappanavar following a miscarriage has been the subject of two inquiries and an inquest since the incident at University Hospital Galway on October 28, 2012.

It has been recorded as a maternal death in the CSO report, which fails to account for two maternal deaths at CoombeMaternityHospital in Dublin and three in CorkUniversityHospital.

A report carried out last year has discovered these gaps in the CSO report and indicates that the rate of maternal death in Ireland could be double the official figure.

The official maternal death rate, based on the CSO figures, was four per 100,000 births.

However, the first report from the Maternal Death Enquiry Ireland says the true maternal death rate is eight per 100,000 births.

This information could help with increasing support for the Irish government's move to clarify legislation around abortion where there is a real danger to the mother-to-be’s life.

While the CSO relies on death certificates, the MDE, which is funded by the Health and Safety Executive, gathers its information from various sources including hospitals, Coroners’ Courts and public health nurses.

Their latest report, covering 2009-2011, found that 25 women who attended Irish maternity hospitals died during this period of time. In comparison, the CSO figures missed 20 of those deaths.

The Irish government has put forth the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, support for which grew following the death of Savita after an inquest heard that she had been denied a potentially life-saving abortion on the grounds that Ireland was a "Catholic country".

A long-awaited report of the HSE inquiry into the death is expected to be published within the next 10 days.

The probe had been set up in November, days after Savita died of septicaemia after being admitted at 17 weeks into her pregnancy and found to be miscarrying.

Aditi Khanna London
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