Sixty-two (62) institutional maternal deaths have been recorded in the Eastern Region between January 2022 to September 20, according to the Regional Directorate of Ghana Health Service (GHS).
In the real sense, the number could be higher as deaths recorded in communities outside health facilities are mostly concealed by families.
The high maternal mortality rate in Eastern Region continues to be a worry to stakeholders in the health sector.
A total of 109 maternal deaths were recorded in the region in 2017 but decreased marginally to 89 in 2021 due to various interventions deployed in a concerted effort to bring down maternal deaths which have always stood high in the region.
Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is the leading cause of maternal deaths recorded this year in the region as it claimed the lives of 18 pregnant women representing 33.4% while 10 of the pregnant women representing 18.6% died due to hypertensive disorders.
Unsafe abortion claimed 10 lives representing 9.2%. The other causes are Sepsis, ruptured uterus, anemia, ectopic, HIV, pneumonia, pneumonia embolism, and meningitis
The Eastern Regional Directorate of the Ghana Health Service has described the situation as disturbing.
Addressing the media, the Eastern Regional Director of Health Services Dr. Winfred Ofosu largely blamed inadequate logistics, equipment, and blood shortage at healthcare facilities as reasons for high maternal deaths.
Other causes he noted to be directly associated with maternal deaths were hemorrhage, unsafe abortion, hypertensive disorders, infections, and obstructed labour while indirect causes, include malaria, HIV/AIDS, and anemia. Other factors like poverty, lack of skilled health personnel, and poor transport system he said have contributed to the high maternal mortality ratio in Ghana.
“These factors have all been noted to contribute to one of the three delays; delay in deciding to go to the hospital, delay in arriving at the hospital, and a delay in getting treatment at a health facility”.
Dr. Winfred Ofosu further noted that several other factors implicated in maternal deaths are refusal of referrals to higher levels, refusal of surgical interventions(CS), visiting herbalist or prayer camps for concoctions, inadequate ambulances vehicles, activities of traditional birth attendance, and late arrival to health facilities.
He said the Health Directorate will continue to deepen collaboration with the police to smoke out herbalists and Spiritualists whose negligence may be implicated for prosecution.
He said the Regional Health Directorate is also strengthening its clinical monitoring and supervisory system to also deal with matters of medical negligence or errors.
Meanwhile, he said more midwives are needed to be posted to health facilities in the rural areas in the region.
The Health Directorate stated that half of the pregnancies recorded in the region annually are unintended often leading women and girls to resort to unsafe practices to terminate the fetuses, resulting in life-long complications and deaths sometimes.
Therefore, the regional health Directorate has this year launched “Zero Tolerance for Maternal Deaths” campaign which primarily aims at reducing unintended pregnancies among women and girls through the provision of safe abortion and family planning (FP) services to reduce maternal deaths.
“The campaign is further seeking support for these unfortunate people to avail themselves of the best and safest techniques for terminating unwanted pregnancies to save their lives and for timely family planning to prevent further unintended pregnancies. Other activities carried out in addition to the campaign include the integration of Comprehensive Abortion Care (CAC) into Reproductive Health Services”.
He continued that “activities carried out to aid the integration of CAC into the reproductive health services includes; Engagement of RHMT to sensitize members on the integration, Mapping of existing service providers and monitoring of their activities, Training of regional resource team, Training of regional data resource team, Training of Regional and district Champions on Value Clarification and attitude transformation, Engagement of the DHMT to sensitize them on the Value Clarification and attitude transformation, Health information officers, Public Health Nurses and service providers trained in rslog. Support visits to service provision sites, Distribution and orientation on CAC data collection tools, standards, and protocols “.