4 February 2013

Ghana: Health Alert ! 4,000 Women Risk Death

About 4,000 Ghanaian pregnant girls and women risk death this year, whilst over 100,000 others are likely to develop short and long term disabilities from pregnancy related complications, recent studies have indicated.

The Executive Director of Maternal Health Channel, a social development agency, Dr. Kwesi Owusu, who disclosed this rather disturbing trend to The Chronicle said: "The trend has increased in spite of the interventions that have been made and we hope we can all come together in a concerted effort because it is not likely we will meet the MDG on maternal mortality," he noted, in conformity with other earlier reports on maternal mortality rates in Ghana.

This rising trend is against the backdrop of various interventions by the government of Ghana to reduce maternal mortality and achieve the Millennium Development Goal 5, which targets a reduction by three quarters of the maternal mortality ratio.

Dr. Owusu points to the fact that the figures may be more disturbing, considering findings from current studies conducted into maternal mortality in the country.

But Dr. Asisah Zachariah, Director, Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (PPME) at the Ministry of Health, told The Chronicle that a lot of improvements have been made by the Ministry to reduce the maternal mortality in the country.

Although, figures on maternal health in Ghana vary from my sources, the Ministry of Health said governmental efforts are yielding positive results.

From indications, the Ministry of Health seem not to have current data on maternal mortality rates in the country, as Dr. Asisah pointed to a 2008 United Nations estimate, which put the figures at 350 deaths per 100,000 live births, a decline in the 2007 estimate of 450 deaths per 100,000 births.

However, a 2010- 2013 Draft 2011 Annual Progress Report of the Ghana Shared Growth and Development (GSGDA), however, painted a gloomy picture for maternal mortality rates in the country, when it indicated a worsening situation on the ground.

The report served notice that Ghana is not likely to achieve the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing Maternal Mortality rate to 185 to 100,000 live births by 2015.

Instructively, data collection was a major hurdle for the GSGDA in bid to gather information on child mortality and maternal health in the country. "Current data on Child mortality and maternal mortality is not available" the report noted.

The report, however, pointed to a rather disturbing trend when it pointed to institutional data on Maternal Mortality Ratio which showed a worsening situation with 173.8 per 100,000 live births in 2011, after a reduction from 170 per 100,000 live births in 2009 to 164 per 100,000 live births in 2010.

A 2005 USAID survey on Ghana suggested that some 3,500 women and girls die each year due to pregnancy- related complications while an additional number of about 70,000 more suffer from injuries or disabilities caused by complications during pregnancy and childbirth each year.

Years down the line, Ghana seem to be grappling with the issue of maternal mortality rate, as the situation remains disturbing and needs urgent attention .

The World Health Organisation estimates that up to 358 000 women and girls die each year in pregnancy and childbirth globally.

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