Ho, Sept 6, GNA- The Ghana Health Service (GHS) is to undertake an aggressive communications drive to break the cultural and religious barriers that prevent pregnant women from seeking skilled attention during delivery.
Dr George Amofa, the Director of Public Health of the GHS, said this at the Reproductive and Child Health 2004 half-yearly review meeting in Ho. He said the drive would seek to reverse the trend where some pregnant women attend antenatal clinic but insist on bringing forth at home. Dr Amofa said the persistently high maternal mortality rates in the country were mainly due to the low rate of supervised births by skilled personnel.
He also mentioned the shortage of all categories of health personnel and the inappropriate attitude of some staff at the health facilities as contributing to the high maternal mortality rate in the country.
"The lack of the sense of urgency, not in reproductive health cases alone, but also with accident and other acute illnesses that required immediate attention, must be addressed", Dr Amofa said.
"Irrespective of how poorly you are paid, if you don't have that sense of urgency, you will be in the wrong profession."
Public Health Specialists, Public Health Nurses, Nutrition Officers and Midwives are attending the five-day meeting, sponsored by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), among others from the 10 regions of Ghana.
Dr Mrs Henrietta Odoi-Agyarko, the Deputy Director of Public Health in charge of Family Health, said maternal mortality ratio had "declined from 280 per 100,000 live births in 1993 to 250 per 100,000 births in 2003.
She said the reduction was still far from the ministry's objective of reducing maternal mortality rate to 150 per 100,000 live births by the year 2006.
Dr Mrs Odoi-Agyarko said the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy target for maternal mortality rate is 54 per 100,000 live births by 2015. She said the 47 per cent supervised delivery was woefully inadequate and suggested that health professionals traced pregnant women who had been attending antennal clinics to their homes to do the delivery. Dr Mrs Odoi-Agyarko said the ritual of giving dismal figures at meetings should be considered over and more practical ways of achieving targets sought.
She said it was no use listing how many maternal deaths occurs without commensurate figures for audit of why that happened.
Dr Mrs Odoi-Agyarko suggested that District Assemblies commit two per cent of their budget to Reproductive Health activities and 20 per of District Assembly Health Fund also for the same purpose. Mr Kwasi Owusu-Yeboa, the Volta Regional Minister, said the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was a very "bold and determined effort by the government to promote an affordable health care delivery system in the country".
He said the government's commitment to the scheme was firm and irrevocable and cautioned those apathetic towards it "nothing will stand in the way of the government in ensuring its success".
Also attending the meeting, during which all the regions would present situational reports, are representatives of the WHO, UNICEF, USAID and DFID who are collaborating with the GHS in implementing some projects. 06 Sep 04