Health News of Monday, 21 April 2014


Institutional maternal deaths high

An obstetrician/gynaecologist and Dean of the School of Public Health – University of Ghana, Prof. Richard Adanu, has called on the government and relevant stakeholders to take serious action to address maternal and newborn mortality in the country.

Prof. Adanu, who is also the Country Director of the Evidence for Action project (MamaYe! Campaign), indicated that efforts being made to improve maternal and newborn survival must be intensified.

“There has been a marked lessening of efforts to address maternal deaths and this cannot be ignored. We need to identify where the loopholes are and bring pressure to bear on everyone who has a role to play. There are issues with infrastructure and human resource across the country; these need to be addressed at the national budgeting level,” he advised.

He made the call following the regional compilation of the 2013 figures on maternal and child mortality.

A total of 1,012 institutional maternal deaths were recorded across the country in 2013 compared to 889 deaths recorded in the preceding year. This is according to the District Health Information Management System (DHIMS2) data compiled on March 30, 2014 and made available by the Ghana Health Service.

The Greater Accra Region, which boasts some of the top-class health facilities in the country, recorded the highest number of mortalities with 201 in 2013, followed closely by the Ashanti Region, with 200 deaths, the Eastern Region 124 , Northern Region - 99, Brong Ahafo Region - 95, Western Region - 85, Volta Region -73, Central Region - 68, Upper West Region - 34 and Upper East - 33.

Institutional stillbirth figures

Institutional stillbirth figures across the country also went up to 11,976 in 2013; this is 274 stillbirths more than those recorded in 2012.

According to Prof. Adanu, pregnant women and their families must also take precautionary measures to ensure they access the free antenatal care available to all pregnant women in Ghana.

“Going for antenatal care can save your life,” he said.

Even though specific causes of these deaths are not readily available in the DHIMS2 data, haemorrhage had been the highest cause of maternal deaths in the past. Other causes include abortion, eclampsia, miscarriages, sepsis and obstructed labour.

Officials of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, for example, have attributed the high rate of maternal deaths at the hospital to late referral of emergency pregnancy cases from peripheral facilities.

The Advocacy Advisor of the MamaYe! Campaign, Vicky T. Okine, also expressed concern about the high deaths recorded in 2013 despite the various projects and campaigns being implemented by non-governmental organisations.

“Without sounding alarmist, something is definitely not right. We are building CHPS compounds, there is free maternal healthcare, there are various sensitisation programmes taking place in communities and yet we keep recording these mortalities. There is something wrong somewhere,” she said.

Saving lives of pregnant women

According to Ms Okine, only a clear commitment on the part of the government to spend more efficiently in saving the lives of pregnant women will reduce the mortality cases.

“We must prioritise our funding needs. Every year, we talk about the statistics as though the lives of these women are just numbers. They are mothers, wives, sisters and breadwinners. We need to take a step back and examine the impact of the strategies being implemented by the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service,” she said.

Ms Okine urged the government to train more skilled birth attendants (SBAs) in order to spread the healthcare services to rural women whose lives depended on them.