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17.09.2003 Health

Stable govts have positive impact on maternal health

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Accra, Sept 17, GNA - Dr Edmund Browne, Africa Regional Coordinator of the Regional Prevention of Maternal Mortality (RPMM) Network, on Wednesday said safe and stable democratic governance would improve maternal health in Africa.

He said this would also help reduce maternal deaths drastically if only African governments would make their countries free from wars and conflicts.

Dr Browne said this when he delivered a paper on: "The role of good governance in preventing maternal mortality in Africa" as part of the ongoing three-day conference on "Second Generation Results" organized by the RPMM in Accra.

The conference, which is in its second day, is under the theme: "Striving Towards Achieving The Fifth Millennium Development Goal In Africa: Reducing Maternal Mortality".

More than 50 participants from 20 African countries are attending the conference to deliberate on issues such as working with communities to improve access to healthcare and identifying problems, expanding coverage and capacity building, promoting sustainability, governance and human rights and improving related services.

Dr Browne noted that experiences from four countries in the Sub-Sahara Africa that subscribe to multiparty presidential style democracy were used to review the impact on maternal mortality. The countries, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia and Tanzania, carried out interventions including improving accessibility and quality of Emergency Obstetric Care (EMOC) at basic and comprehensive levels, improving related services such as transport, community financing, blood, improving referral systems, community education on danger signs and resource mobilization.

Ghana and Tanzania were selected because of the stable and safe governance.

Dr Browne, who is also the head of Community Health Department at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, said countries where the review was done, indicated that case fatality for obstetric emergencies had declined and there was a secure environment to prevent maternal mortality.

Causes of maternal mortality include obstructed labour; haemorrhage; complication of unsafe abortion; infection and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

He said gender inequalities and discrimination limited women's choices and contributed to their ill health and death and, therefore, called on governments to empower them, ensure that their choices are met; promote greater community participation and involve them in health issues.

Dr Browne said as part of the human rights approach, RPMM Network is targeting political leaders and communities to facilitate programmes that address the prevention of maternal mortality.

He stressed the need to educate and mobilise communities on the danger signs in pregnancy and seek prompt care, saying; "many women because of cultural practices were not able to report early enough when they were in labour and this sometimes resulted in complications".

Dr John Wilson, Chairman of the Ghana Prevention of Maternal Mortality (GPMM), who spoke on scaling up interventions of PMM in Ghana, said there was the need to provide hospitals with skilled staff and the resources to enable them to perform effectively.

He reiterated the need to focus on comprehensive emergency obstetric, which he described as the key to saving women from dying of pregnancy related causes. 17 Sept. 03

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