Advice the Ministry of Health on how to deal with Maternal Mortality in Ghana
Maternal mortality is the death of a woman during pregnancy or within 42 days at the end of pregnancy from causes aggravated by the pregnancy but not from incidental causes. A woman’s risk of death in childbirth over the course of her life may be due to many factors including the number of children she already has, spacing of the births, conditions under which she gives birth and her own health and nutritional status. 99 percent (%) of maternal deaths occurs in the developing countries. Maternal deaths happen for two (2) reasons; a direct obstetrical death which is caused by complications that develops directly as a result of pregnancy, delivery or postpartum period.
An indirect obstetric death which is due to existing medical conditions that are made worse by pregnancy or delivery. In Ghana, most cases of maternal mortality are recorded in the rural areas. There are five major medical causes of direct obstetric death; hemorrhage (28%), complication of unsafe abortion (19%), pregnancy induced hypertension (17%), infection (11%) and obstructed labor (11%). Direct obstetric deaths accounts for about 25% of all deaths in developing countries of which Ghana is included. In dealing with this socio-medical challenge, the Ministry of Health can adopt these measures to solve the problem. An Improved Antenatal Care Services.
The Ministry of Health should make provisions to improve on antenatal services offered to women at the various health institutions as this is one of the most important ways of reducing maternal deaths. This can be done by providing all needed logistics to facilitate a better service. In the rural areas where the high deaths are recorded and there are no health facilities functional Community based health planning and services (CHPS) compounds should be built and provided with all needed resources and skilled personnel’s to discharge their duties diligently. In communities where there are health facilities the women should be encouraged to take advantage of their services in the cause of their pregnancy to help them have a safe pregnancy and delivery. The organization of workshops for health personnel and educational training of Traditional Birth Attendants to improve their
skills. “Knowledge” they say is power and a nation’s greatest asset is its human resource.
The Ministry of Health must frequently organize training programs to upgrade staff on their knowledge and skills so as to perform efficiently on the job. Traditional Births attendants in the remote areas should be given formal training to sharpen their skills to perform effectively, for instance, some Traditional birth attendants believe that pushing on the abdomen during delivery, makes the process faster and easier, but on the contrary it is dangerous to the health of both the mother and the unborn baby. Also another way to deal with Maternal Mortality is to improve girl child education and women empowerment. The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education should collaborate to infuse into the curriculum of the Junior and Senior High Schools, Health educational programs.
During this period health personnel should be sent to schools to offer health educational talks, most especially to the girls on reproductive health and its related issues. When this is well implemented it will go a long way to reduce teenage pregnancy and the rate of unsafe abortions done to terminate these pregnancies. Educational programs should also be organized for women in various communities by health staff and also through the electronic media, e.g. Radio and television at least once a week on their health. Skill training programs e.g. dressmaking, catering, basket weaving etc. should be organized for the women in order to help them earn a living. With these monies earned they will be able to provide their needs such as food and medicines prescribed so they wouldn’t depend on their husbands especially in the rural areas where the rates are very high. Furthermore to deal with Maternal Mortality, there should be constant monitoring of risk pregnancy and also access to emergency obstetric care.
We cannot predict or prevent obstetric emergencies, but Maternal Mortality can be avoided when pregnant women are screened for risk factors to avoid needless deaths. As with no doubt where there is the provision of emergency obstetric care services as issued by World Health Organization and maternal deaths is significantly reduced. Pregnant women should be able to access those facilities as their mere presence alone will not lead to a reduction in the maternal deaths. Finally the Ministry of Health must create awareness and do an extensive public education about this social nightmare that claims the lives of our sisters and mothers.
This awareness can be created through programs which solely talks about maternal health and its related issues. E.g. by dedicating a particular day in every month as a Maternal Health day. This will create the medium to sensitize people on the dangers, other than it being celebrated annually or on a yearly basis. In conclusion Maternal Mortality has robbed us of our loved ones through no fault of theirs. And to prevent further loss in the near future and also make child bearing more safer for pregnant women the Ministry of Health can include the measures discussed above in addition to the existing ones to help the country Ghana achieve the Millennium Development Goal number five (5) by the year 2015 as stipulated.
Courtney from Study Moose
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