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Health News of Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Source: GNA

Northern Region records high maternal deaths

Tamale, Jan. 5, GNA- The Northern Region recorded over 112 maternal deaths during the floods that devastated parts of Northern Ghana and the Brong Ahafo region last year.

Dr. Akwasi Tumasi, Northern Region Director of Health Services (RDHS) said this at a day's advocacy seminar organised by United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) in Tamale on Tuesday. The Seminar was on the theme: "The floods disaster in the Northern Region: Response to the sexual and reproductive health needs". The seminar was a collaboration between the Ministry of Health (MOH), UNICEF, WHO, the World Food Programme (WFP), the Red Cross and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO).

Dr. Tumasi said the floods rendered a lot of communities inaccessible to the health workers to give medical attention to the pregnant women, adding that, about 90 per cent of the deaths could have been prevented.

He said the situation was a national disaster and likened it to a plane crash in which if about 60 people perished it was declared a national disaster.

He said about 30 per cent of pregnant women who attended health facilities were also found out to be anaemic because they could not get adequate nourishment in the face of the destruction of foodstuffs by the floods.

Dr. Twumasi said although the community health nurses and the other medical personnel did their best during the floods they could not cover all areas due to inadequate staff, logistics and supervision. He said to address these constraints the MOH was in the process of training staff on reproductive health with special emphasis on antenatal care and contraceptive update and to also galvanise district health communities to carry out more maternal deaths audits. He said the MOH would also, among others, organise operation research on low update of reproductive health services and intensify facilitative supervision to districts and sub-districts.

Mrs. Abiba Daison, the District Director of Health (DDHS) for the Karaga District in a presentation said out of 212 communities in the district, 93 were severely affected by the floods and her medical team was able to gain access to only 11 communities.

She said several acres of farmlands were destroyed, submerged or total washed away while fishing and farming came to a standstill. She said diseases such as malaria and diarrhoea were common, while the black fly attacked the people because of the closeness of the district to the Black Volta.

Mrs. Daison said there was also the fear of the spread of communicable diseases because of overcrowding and children were also malnourished and had stopped going to school.

She also expressed concern about the activities of quack doctors and nurses who took advantage of the people and were given wrong medication to them, further worsening their plight.

Mrs. Osei Konadu, Programme Officer of the UNFPA said the Fund's response to emergencies and other humanitarian situations was focused on promoting safe motherhood, preventing HIV infections and addressing sexual violence in order to reduce, among others, maternal mortality. She said last year the Fund provided kits with essential drugs, equipment and other consumables for some 75,000 people in the worst affected flood districts in the region.

She said the Fund had supported in the training of staff and community and social mobilisation in order to enhance access to clean, safe deliveries and complications of pregnancies. It was also to ensure the management of rape and sexual abuses and management of sexual transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS prevention and the consequences of other harmful practices. 05 Feb. 08

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