The Ghana Health Service (GHS) will by the middle of the year come out with a new maternal mortality ratio to be used for effective planning in reducing maternal mortality to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Speaking at a panel discussion on reducing maternal mortality in Ghana on Wednesday, Dr. Henrietta Odoi- Agyarko Director of the Reproductive and Child Health Unit said contracted people were already on the field gathering information to that effect.
She said, the current maternal mortality ratio being used 214 deaths per 100,000 live births was calculated in 1993 and needed to be updated to reflect the real situation on the ground to effect change, adding, “for all we might know, this figure had gone up and the right figure should be used”.
The panel discussion was an outcome of the Women Deliver conference held in London in October last year, which also marked the 20th anniversary of safe motherhood initiative world-wide.
Giving institutional data, She said 187 deaths per 100,000 live births were recorded in 2006, 912 deaths per 100,000 live births for 2005 and 945 deaths per 100,000 live births from January to October in 2007.
Dr Odoi-Agyarko expressed the concern that most of the victims of maternal deaths were young girls and women in the rural areas and called for the intensification of the girl-child education.
She said women were dying of pregnancy related complications that could be prevented but due to delays and some cultural attitudes innocent women and babies
had to loose their lives.
She noted that still birth was another thing that was becoming very rampant and common with 10,000 to 12, 000 babies dying in the wombs of their mother each year.
Maternal mortality in Ghana is caused by haemorrhage, eclampsia (induced pregnancy hypertension), unsafe abortion, sepsis, obstructed labour and obstetric fistula whilst other areas lack transport in the rural areas, bad roads and lack of health facilities in remote areas and lack of equipment.
She advocated for parents to give their adolescents folic acid, which had no overdose to strengthen them and prevent some of the pregnancy
related complications in future and also suggested the use of anti-shock garments to solve the haemorrhage problem.
Dr. Ali Samba, an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital said the referral institution alone recorded 700 to 800 deaths per 100,000 live births annually and added that most of the deaths were delayed cases that came to the hospitals very late at a worst condition, which could not have been saved.
He complained that the unit had only one theatre working instead of three theatres and that was also contributing to the causes of maternal mortality “because pregnant women with emergency cases had queue and sometimes it is difficult says whose case is more serious that should be attended to first”.
He appealed for the refurbishment of the other two theatres to ease pressure and speed up services to save more lives.
Major Courage Quashigah, Minister of Health called for the revisit of some traditional practices on pregnancy and delivery and modernized it reduce the current maternal mortality, which he described and becoming scaring.
Hajia Alema Mahama, Minister of the Women and Children's Affairs said the ministry would continue advocating for the implementation of interventions that would promote gender equality, women empowerment and maternal and child health.
She pledged that the ministry would strengthen its collaboration and maintain close links with relevant ministries to reduce maternal and child mortality, reproductive health, safe motherhood, HIV/AIDS and promote the health of women.
Professor Fred Sai Presidential Advisor on HIV/AIDS, Reproductive Health and Population Issues, who chaired called for use of family planning and advocated for gender equity and equality access adding, “Our constitutions had frown on these for far too long and we need to change if we want to attain positive goals”.
He said religiosity was another area that needed serious attention and said though health physicians had morals they should not allow that to impede their work and offer services to people who needed safe abortion services.
Prof. Sai called for the equipment of health facilities to ensure the safety of the lives of pregnant women adding, “We honour soldiers who die but we do not honour the women who die trying to be mothers and they are heroes of our world too”.