Friday, 2 December 2016

Additional Information regarding Fact Check: Ireland's safety record on maternal health

AIMS Ireland were contacted with regards to the Factcheck on a leaflet used by anti-choice campaigners highlighting an excellent record of safety in Irish maternity services.

The Factcheck can be read here:

AIMS Ireland had a brief exchange with Factcheck over twitter and requested to discuss further offline. Several days following the initial discussion, AIMS Ireland then privately sent in information which we feel is vitally important to assist in interpreting statistics provided by Factcheck as well as additional factors relevant in the discussion of the issue of safety.

We have not had a response from Factcheck (2 weeks) so are publishing the additional information provided to Factcheck into the public domain.

AIMS Ireland have been campaigning for improvements in the Irish maternity services, including the implementation of evidence based care practices and basic rights to informed consent, as well as  providing advocacy to thousands of women and other pregnant people since 2007. This issue continuously arises in support services, as well as academic circles and between care providers.

Hi Dan,

Thank you for the offer to engage with us following our brief Twitter chat. Apologies for the delay in getting back to you - we are a wholly voluntary-run organisation with no funding and thus no full-time staff.

AIMS Ireland is a maternity rights organisation which also provides advocacy to women within the continuum of maternity services.

With regards to the Factcheck on Ireland being one of the safest places to have a baby, we have some points that we feel would help clarify. We have been contacted by individuals confused and upset by the Factcheck, as presented.

With regards to WHO data, we feel it is relevant for the following to be quantified in order to assist in people’s understanding of the data.

Ireland is ranked joint 6th in WHO data.

This ranking is made up of a 31 year average
Joint 6th does not mean that we are 6th in the world – there are 26 Countries whom have MMRs lower than Ireland. Ireland at 8 per 100,000 shares this rate with Croatia, France and FYR Macedonia. However the following 26 Countries have rates lower.

Australia 6 Germany 6 Norway 5

Austria 4 Greece 3 Poland 3

Belarus 4 Iceland 3 Slovakia 6

Belgium 7 Italy 4 Spain 5

Canada 7 Japan 5 Sweden 4

Cyprus 7 Israel 5 Switzerland 5

Czech Rep 4 Kuwait 4 United Arab Emirates 6

Denmark 6 Montenegro 7

Finland 3 Netherlands 7

WHO statistics are global, which is problematic as it does not compare like with like; Western Countries (with access to basic hygiene, nutrition, antenatal care, technology, well trained health care providers, maternity units, etc) to Countries without the very basic of care.

Comparatively, looking at EU States, we rank 16th of 28 with the UK (9), Bulgaria (11), Estonia (9), Hungary (17), Latvia (18), Luxemborg (10) Malta (9) and Portugal (10) with higher rates.

For Western nations, with the availability of factors mentioned above, many (including AIMS Ireland) are of the opinion that maternal mortality alone should not be the sole indicator for measuring the safety and quality of our maternity services. Women have reacted strongly on this point, sharing stories of poor quality of care void of basic safety procedures. AIMS Ireland strongly recommends that any discussion of safety and quality must include morbidities; physical and psychological to mother and baby.

Maternal Morbidities MAMMI Study Ireland 2016

1/7 women in Ireland who die, die from suicide
¼ of maternal deaths have mental health issues and the State is not addressing this. There are 3 perinatal psychiatrists, all in Dublin, for the entire Irish population. Ireland also has no Mother-Baby units.
Ireland has the highest rates of postnatal depression in the OECD
4/10 women who give birth in Ireland are readmitted to hospital for their own health.
10% of maternal deaths in Ireland are due to maternal haemorrhage
Major Obstetric Haemorrhage (MOH) has increased from 1.5% to 4.1% in Ireland from 2001-2011
24% of MOH in Ireland are admitted to the UCU (near misses)
11.2% of MOH have hysterectomy
The National rate of MOH is 2.6 per 1000
Almost 2/3 of women report sexual health problems post birth. 1 in 5 women reported painful sex a year following birth.
Anal incontinence 12% of women who gave birth in Ireland

Also worthy of mention, the HSE directly cites the 8th Amendment in the National Consent Policy as a barrier to consent in continued pregnancy and childbirth. Informed consent/refusal is the cornerstone of medical ethics and evidenced best practice. A health system void of this most basic but core value is incapable of being considered in highest ranking.

While AIMS Ireland understands that the Factcheck was in relation to accessibility to abortion, all care within the maternity continuum are inherently linked and should be inclusive of the full data.


Jene and Sinéad

** In addition, AIMS Ireland would like to reiterate that Ireland's ranking in WHO documentation is based on a 31 year average. However, Ireland has only participated in the Maternal Death Enqiry (MDE Ireland) surveilance system since 2009. Disparities between MDE statistics and methods of classification/collection of these statistics prior to 2009 (under-reporting in CSO figures) are widely disucssed and it should be noted that our statistical ranking from a 31 year average is based on recognised classification definitions only since 2009. Further, MDE Ireland's recent report continues to highlight challenges within the Irish system, particularly through regional units and coroner's reports, which contribute to under-reporting of maternal deaths in ireland.

Additional information on MDE Ireland ia available to read here:


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