Authorities of the Ghana Health Service in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region as well as Management of the Bongo District Hospital have received huge praises from the Upper East Regional Minister for achieving a record of zero maternal deaths from 2018 to date. This coincides with the International Women’s Day celebration, a day set aside globally to celebrate and support women’s rights.
The Regional Minister, Hon. Paulina Patience Abayage heaped the praises on the authorities when she addressed a day’s seminar on “zero maternal death” organised by the Bongo District Health Directorate under the theme: -Sustaining Zero Maternal Deaths In Bongo – The Role Of Stakeholders.
She also acknowledged the efforts of the District Assembly by way of construction and renovation of CHPS facilities for health service delivery while commending the traditional leadership in the area and community members for their individual support to the health authorities in achieving this enviable feat.
Hon. Abayage noted that in the modern and changing times, quality health care delivery has become a shared responsibility and that all stakeholders ought to continue doing their bit to ensure that no community or settlement was left out in the access to affordable and quality health services.
She stated that government had traveled a long road in its efforts to continually reduce maternal deaths adding that, though huge successes had been chalked, there had also been few challenges. She revealed for instance that, the 2017 Ghana Maternal Health Survey indicated that more women were attending hospital for antenatal services within their first trimester than in times past.
The survey also revealed that, delivery in health services rose from 54 percent in 2007 to 79 percent in 2017.
The Regional Minister however observed that in spite of the progress made, it must be acknowledged that the scale up of maternal health services particularly, at the district level as well as investment in the CHPS concept of health delivery and other related primary health care infrastructure has not been moving as expected.
She noted further that, access to critical health services has also been impeded sometimes in the communities due to financial constraints in some families, long distances between households and health facilities, low literacy rates amongst women and old traditional norms that limit women from attending health facilities until their husbands were consulted first. Meanwhile, the referral system in the health service, also leaves much to be desired as there was often lack of proper and effective coordination between facilities.
According to her, government had restrategized the National Health Insurance Scheme with the introduction of the mobile renewal of membership cards to speed-up the process and also save time for clients to attend to other vital engagements such as business. Additionally, proper checks and balances including forensic auditing of claims submitted by service providers have been instituted to weed out corruption in the health delivery system.
She said government was also increasing the numbers and coverage of Community-based Health Planning Services [CHPS] facilities across the country while increasing the numbers of trained critical health man power such as midwives.
There is also the continuous implementation of the free maternal health care policy and all of these are geared at drastically, reducing the occurrence of maternal deaths if not completely eradicating the phenomenon.
Madam Abayage however, commended the health authorities for the roll out and implementation of the Mother and Baby Friendly Health Initiative which works to create the necessary structures and systems to meet the health needs of pregnant women, lactating mothers and their new-borns.
She was also thankful to development partners in the health sector for their tremendous assistance and mentioned JICA, KOICA, Water Aid Ghana and UNICEF among others as those deserving praise from the government and people of Ghana.
Upper East Regional Director of Health Services, Dr. Wilfred Ofosu in his remarks at the seminar proposed the following as solutions to curbing the menace of maternal deaths in Ghana: the expansion of access to mother and baby-friendly health facilities, 100 percent penetration of the National Health Insurance Scheme, increased training and deployment of midwives, improved transportation in the health sector and use of telemedicine communication systems among others.
Dr. Ofosu appealed to traditional authorities to scrap old-fashion customs that prohibit women from obtaining antenatal and postnatal services as such abstinence was detrimental to both mother and child. He also hinted of completed discussions to post a third doctor to the Bongo District Hospital but that accommodation to house the doctor was an issue and thus called on the Assembly to act on the issue.
Meanwhile, Presiding Member for the Bongo Assembly, Hon. Duke A. Anabah who spoke on behalf of the District Chief Executive pledged that, the Assembly would continue to invest in the health sector and also take steps to improve the district’s road network in order to guarantee swift transport of health emergencies to more resourced facilities in and outside the area for appropriate medical attention.