Cure shortsightedness now!

Area's maternal death rate must be brought down

Let’s be honest. Our health-care system, arguably the best in the world, has never done prevention very well. It’s almost been an afterthought, if a thought at all.


That’s the height of shortsightedness. It costs more in the long run – more money, more pain, more suffering, more lives – to ignore prevention and skip to treatment once disease sets in.

We need to change that, and here’s some very good motivation: Georgia is first in the nation in the numbers of women who die during pregnancy or in their children’s first year of life.

And the 13-county Augusta health district leads the state in that purely awful statistic. In fact, Augusta’s East Central Health District has two-and-a-half times the maternal deaths as the rest of the state and six times the national rate.

We need to find out why.

The state has formed a “maternal mortality committee” to investigate the relatively high mortality rate for pregnant women and young mothers in the region. We look forward to their findings.

Is it diet and other health matters? A lack of access to health care? A lack of education? Or self-esteem? Cultural factors? A Georgia Regents University study in 2011 found that suicides and homicides are the leading cause of maternal deaths.

Regardless of what they end up concluding, it’s certain that the public health system and access to prenatal and postnatal care play crucial roles in healthy pregnancies and mothers.

Will the new federal health care law bolster such care? We hope so, though we fear that the colossal bureaucracy the law is creating may only get in the way of itself and the delivery of care.

This page has been highly critical of the law. We believe its government-centric approach is simply the wrong prescription for what ails us. We’re not the only ones to harbor that dread: Democrat Sen. Max Baucus of Montana famously said he sees Obamacare as a coming train wreck. And a top Obama administration official admitted last week its rollout would be messy.

Then again, Republicans who opposed Obamacare did a dismal job of putting forth their own remedy, and were caught flat-footed and got completely out-maneuvered. Then they nominated the only presidential candidate they could find – Mitt Romney – who was unable to make Obamacare an issue, since he’d presided over a similar measure as governor of Massachusetts.

They’ve got no one to blame but themselves.

Whatever the system, we’ve got to unite and bring down the maternal death rate here. It’s a disgrace, particularly for a region with some of the best hospitals, doctors and researchers in the Southeast.

Understanding the problem must lead to a solution.


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