Over 1,680 (60 per cent) out of the country's midwives population of 2,800, are due for retirement in the next two years, deputy minister of Health, Abraham Dwuma Odoom, has said.
To address the shortage, he said the government is seeking the assistance of Israel to train more midwives.
The inadequate number of midwives has been cited as the cause of the nation's unimpressive performance in meeting the Goals Four and Five of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Mr. Odoom said that as part of the technical assistance being sought, 40 midwives will be sent to the Galilee Institute in Israel, to be trained as trainers in midwifery.
He was speaking at the signing ceremony yesterday of a £42.5million (about GH¢80 million) grant assistance from the British government to support the health sector.
The British grant is to help Ghana meet its key health indicators such as the increase in immunisation coverage and address the challenges of maternal death and child mortality, which all form part of the MDGs.
It is also to enable the government to implement its free maternity health care for all pregnant women to be disbursed within a five-year period.
The Goals Four and Five of the MDGs are to reduce child mortality and to improve maternal health respectively.
Other measures to address the shortfall in midwives, according to the minister, is to increase further intake of midwife trainees 'which has increased from 2000 in 2002 to 6000 in 2006'.
Mr Odoom said the ministry is also encouraging more people to go into midwifery and as part of the incentive package, final year students will be sent to Israel for attachment, adding 'these measures are put in place to address the problem of maternal mortality.
The country Director of the Department for International Development (DIFD), Mike Hammond, who signed the agreement on behalf of the British government, retraced the bilateral relationship that exist between Ghana and the United kingdom, saying over the past 12 months, the British government has provided development assistance grants totalling around £92 million to Ghana.
He said both Ghana and the UK share the ideals of the MDGs and the common purpose of ensuring that 'Ghana makes progress towards reaching these goals by 2015'.
Mr. Hammond said while the country is doing well in the area of halving poverty, the same cannot be said about the MDGs Four and fFve 'where the country is off track and not performing to its usual high standards,' Mr Hammond said.
He said it was for this reason that the British government endorses the president's decision to grant free medical care to all pregnant women with immediate effect.
'The British government firmly believes that this action will make significant contribution to reducing the number of women in Ghana who die unnecessarily during child birth simply because they cannot afford to access proper medical care.'
He however explained that the grant is not specifically earmarked 'by us to this issue but is designed to support all Ghanaians throughout the country'.
Dr Anthony Akoto-Osei, Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, explained that the grant is not purposely for free medical care for women but 'to support the health sector programme of work'.