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30.12.2004 Regional News

Zero tolerance for pregnancy related deaths for Brong-Ahafo

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Sunyani, Dec. 30, GNA - The Brong-Ahafo Regional Directorate of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has said the directorate would ensure a "zero tolerance" for pregnancy related deaths in the region from next year, 2005.

Under the vision, by 2015 no mother would die from childbirth in the region, Dr. Mohammed Bin Ibrahim, Regional Director of Health Services announced this at a press soiree organised by his outfit for the regional press corps at the Eusbett Hotel in Sunyani on Wednesday. Dr Ibrahim however, said the performance of the regional health service alone could not bring about the needed success of the programme and called for the assistance of stakeholders such as households and communities to join hands together to bring the vision of GHS in the region to fruition.

He classified households bracket to be mothers and fathers, grandparents and adolescents, while the press, traditional leaders, religious leaders and bodies, Parent-Teacher Associations and teachers in schools, non-governmental organizations, community based health practitioners, political leaders, community based associations and many others as the communities.

Dr. Ibrahim said it was the expectation of the directorate that 10 years from now, all women in Brong-Ahafo Region would be functionally literate, well informed about how to stay healthy throughout pregnancy and childbirth and use that information to maintain good health.

Dr. Ibrahim said research had shown that without the assistance of the other stakeholders to play their expected functions, any good effort made by the directorate to ensure that no mother dies from childbirth in the region would be a mirage.

He mentioned some of the problems mitigating against the efforts of the directorate in the region in achieving successful childbirth as, lack of information on pregnancy and childbirth, inadequate investment of time, effort and other resources to support women to stay healthy during pregnancy, childbirth and after delivery.

No shared vision on pregnancy related deaths among all stakeholders in the health system at the Governmental level was also another contributing factor for pregnancy related deaths in the region, Dr. Ibrahim said.

He also blamed the present woes on pregnancy related deaths in the region on the delays in seeking emergency obstetric care by pregnant women, poor staff attitude at the clinics and hospitals, poorly motivated staff, poor supervision, high workload, inadequate staff, lack of tools and equipment, inadequate technical training and poor conditions of service.

Dr. Ibrahim also blamed many pregnancies in the region on non-availability of family planning services, non-use of family planning services even when available, inappropriate cultural norms, religious beliefs and child labour.

He said in order to achieve the vision 2015, the directorate would organize regular municipal and district assembly representatives meetings to discuss issues related to maternal mortality and how to share responsibilities of communicating health messages to communities and households and support the vision.

Dr. Ibrahim said his outfit would also re-orientate or re-educate health providers to be customer friendly and recognize the roles others have to play in attaining the shared vision.

The administrators of the Vision would enrol children in school and adults in adult functional literacy classes, develop or strengthen the advocacy capacity of community-based social, leadership and management groups and structures.

To encourage enthusiastic implementation with accountability in the Vision, Dr. Ibrahim suggested the strengthening of the district health committees with emphasis on maternal mortality on their agenda, designating a pro-safe motherhood coordinator within each district assembly, establishment of a district annual congress on maternal mortality of all stakeholders and a forum for periodic meetings between providers and community members to discuss safe motherhood among others.

Dr. Ibrahim said developing a shared vision required listening to one another, patient dialogue and consensus building, adding, "if you do not periodically pause to examine and review your mental models, you may not realize there is a better alternative".

"Problems are like icebergs, when you see the tip you have not seen it all. It is important to explore for the underlying and remote causes and their interconnections to solve the problem", he said, adding that, teams could develop more robust solutions to problems by their combined efforts and called for all hands on deck for the directorate to ensure achieving zero tolerance for pregnancy related deaths in the region by 2015.

Earlier Dr. George Bonsu, Sunyani Medical Officer in-charge of Public Health, highlighting the performance of the Regional Health Services in 2004, announced that within the year the Service in collaboration with the Regional Co-coordinating Council (RCC), Municipal Assembly and other stakeholders, trained a total of 108 Health Aids at two separate programmes at the Tanoso Community Health Training School near Sunyani.

The year also witnessed for the first time in the history of the Service, a permanent medical officer was posted to Sene District, popularly known as the "Far East" area of the region.

He said the region achieved its target in the 2004 polio immunization programme, hitting a coverage of 492,700, 506,770. 510.109 and 512, 843 in February, March, October and November in that order as against 477,107 same figures recorded in 2003 in each of the same months.

He thanked the leadership of the Regional Health Directorate, RCC, Municipal and District Chief Executives and the Press for their diverse assistance in that course.

Dr. Bonsu said guinea-worm disease, which was in its peak in the year 1989 was gradually showing a downward trend, stressing that in 2003 the Service recorded 4000 cases but in 2004 only 230 cases were reported and attributed the gradual reduction of the disease in the region to the support of World Vision International, Global 2000 as well as hard-working nurses in the Service.

Buruli Ulcer recorded 191 cases, he said, and mentioned some towns in Asutifi, Asunafo, Tano, and Jaman districts as well as Sunyani municipality as the worst affected areas.

He assured that serious research was under way to get rid of the disease in the region and called on all concerned to co-operate with health officers of public health unit or department of the Service.

On the HIV/AIDS, Dr. Bonsu announced that further research indicated that 95 per cent of the disease was transmitted through sex and advised the general public to show a behavioural change in their attitude towards sex.

Mr Philip Akazinge, Regional Coordinator of Health Insurance Scheme announced that 96 per cent of the districts in the region were poised for the commencement of the system, come March next year. According to him, Asunafo and Atebubu districts and Sunyani municipal area are places yet to get ready for the scheme.

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