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16.01.2006 Health

Upper East launches safe motherhood campaign

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Bolgatanga, Jan 16, GNA - Mr Boniface Gambila, the Upper East Regional Minister, at the weekend appealed to traditional rulers to help abolish cultural practices that negatively affect pregnant women and infants, particularly the beliefs prohibiting them from eating meat and eggs.

Mr Gambila said this when he launched the Safe Motherhood Week campaign in Bolgatanga.

It was initiated by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in a bid to check the high rate of mortality among pregnant women and had as its theme: "Make Every Woman and Child Count."

He said statistics indicated that out of every 100,000 women about 214 died due to pregnancy-related causes.

The region also recorded 33 maternal deaths in 2005 and that although the figure is lower than the 47 deaths recorded the previous year, the situation presented a great source of worry.

"The death of a woman as a result of pregnancy or childbirth is indeed a very sad event and a huge tragedy not only for the bereaved family but also the community and the nation as a whole," he said. Mr Gambila urged communities to create emergency transportation plans for women in labour in the absence of an ambulance service, and exhorted family elders to ensure that pregnant women delivered at health facilities.

Dr Abdul-Razak Dokurugu, the Senior Medical Officer in charge of Reproductive Health in the Region, said making motherhood safer was not only a matter of human rights but also fundamental to improving human welfare, reducing poverty and promoting economic development. He cited antenatal care, family planning, good nutrition, safe delivery and awareness information as some essential ingredients for making motherhood safer.

Dr Dokurugu said with the support of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), UNICEF and other development partners, maternal and child health in the Upper East had seen significant improvement over the years.

''Much has also been achieved in capacity building for frontline staff as well as in the provision of equipment and logistics.'' He said by the end of last year, 146 practicing midwives had been trained in life-saving skills and that many others had also received training in integrated management of childhood illnesses. Dr Dokurugu identified undue delays in seeking care for women in labour and the gap between healthcare providers and local communities as shortfalls that exacerbate maternal deaths and infant illness. He urged all stakeholders, therefore, to embrace the community Safe Motherhood Advocacy concepts that sought to address the weaknesses in community support for the safe motherhood initiatives.