Maternal mortality: The silent killer under the guise of motherhood

Maternal mortality: The silent killer under the guise of motherhood

By Jessica Ahedor

Tick tong, tick tong, the clock ticks, it is exactly 10 pm on that faithful Wednesday evening when my wife puts to birth a bouncy baby girl. The joy of fatherhood engrossed me as I heard the first cry of my baby.  I was waiting patiently to be called in  to see my wife and child. After 30 minutes the midwives and the doctor were hurriedly looking for the blood type of my wife.

I was told she was bleeding but I should be relax. She later demanded my presence and she called honey, I am sorry take care of our child, and I have to excuse the doctor little did I know those words  are her last words to me. My wife couldn’t make it out of the theater after our first child is born. Few minutes the doctor said I am sorry Man, we lost them. How can this be happening within few hours, I was devastated and lost everything I had, Mr Lawrence Addo narrates his ordeal about how child birth claimed his wife and a child. Saying ‘’since that day I have pledged to help educate the masses on childbirth and its complications.

Women dying or getting deformed in the process of and after giving birth is a worrying phenomenon  in the world at large. But on the African continent there are a number of factors that contributes to maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity. Ghana is no exception as medical negligence and unavailability of requisite tools or resources and personnel couple with poor attitude towards Healthcare top the factors that leads to women losing their lives and children in the process of child delivery .

It is estimated that in Ghana one woman dies out of very seven women due to maternal cases. According to the  2017 Ghana Maternal Health Survey the country’s maternal mortality ratio stood at 310 deaths per 100,000 live births during the seven-year period prior to the survey. This implies that one in every seven deaths among women age 19 to 49 is due to maternal causes. The figure woefully falls short of the Ministry of Health’s Operational Plan which aims to reduce the maternal mortality ratio to 203 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.

Government Statistician, Baah Wadieh,  who delivered the Survey report, challenged actors in the health sector to prioritize maternal healthcare in order to achieve its health targets.  He stated even though the survey also showed some remarkable improvement in maternal health indicators since the conduct of the first Maternal Health Survey in 2007, many of these deaths are preventable and  needed a decisive action .

Details of the 2017 GMHS, pointed out that, mothers in Ghana are healthier now than ever before and are seeking and obtaining the healthcare they need. Again, more women are attending four or more antenatal care (ANC) visits and beginning ANC within their trimester. Nationwide, delivery in health facilities has increased over the past 10 years from 54 per cent in 2007 to79 per cent in 2017. Fewer children are also now dying before their fifth birthday compared to the situation 30 years ago. Showing a decline in child deaths. In 2017, the country recorded under-five mortality of 52 deaths per 1,000 live births, a decline from 155 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1988.

Nevertheless, it called for increased efforts to address child deaths as one in every 19 Ghanaian children is till dying before their fifth birthday. Antenatal care (ANC) and delivery care coverage in Ghana are improving. “Nationwide, delivery in health facilities has increased over the past 10 years, from 54 per cent in 2007 to 79 per cent in 2017. While this is very good news, 20 per cent of births are still delivered at home, putting mothers and babies at risk.

On his part, Ghana’s renowned pathologists and the former Greater Accra Regional Director of health Prof Badu Akosa has charged government and policy makers to strengthen the role of queen mothers to fix the long battle of maternal mortality and morbidity since they can best handle the situation. He added that, most maternal deaths in Ghana are preventable and about 65% of them are attributable to four causes: postpartum haemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, abortion and sepsis which when,taken serious no woman will die through child birth.

Touching on family planning, the Country Director of Ipas Ghana Dr Koma Jehu Appiah says, one in every four married women in Ghana is using a modern method family planning, representing a five-fold increase from five per cent increase in 1988. Although the country has made progress over these years, it is crucial for issues with maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity to be prioritize to avoid women losing their lives whiles giving birth to another life. He added contraceptives usage has improve but it is incumbent on government to incorporate all maternal health issues/ family planning services onto the National health insurance scheme to enable women have access to quality service.

Ipas Ghana is civil society organization championing reproductive health issues of women and children in Ghana and across the globe.

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