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Message on High Maternal Mortality rate in Ghana.
Dear Brethren,
Today High maternal mortality that bring grief to families, an event which affects every social aspect of our lives, an event that is to a large extent avoidable, and this is the death of a mother during pregnancy, childbirth and soon after.

Pregnancy and childbirth are in God given duty- a blessing, which should bring joy to all but more often than we can imagine, bring grief in the event of the death of mother or baby or both of them.

Almost 600,000 women die every year from complications of pregnancy and childbirth worldwide and about a third of all these deaths occur in Africa.

In Ghana, according to a survey done in 1993, 214 women die out of every 100,000 babies born, but this is not the same for every region. In some regions it can be as high as 500 to 800 for every 100,000 babies born.

Last year (2001) 954 women died in pregnancy and childbirth in our health institutions, out of this number
· 590 were women between the ages of 20 and 35 years.
· 261 were over 35 years
· 19 of them were between the tender ages of 20 and 14 years.

This number of deaths is almost like 8 stadium disasters involving only women of Ghana within a year!
These deaths did not include those who died at home and were not sent to hospitals, this did not include those dying in fetishes and in some churches, this did not include those who die in private hospitals that do not routinely provide this information to the Ministry of Health/ Ghana Health Service (MOH/GHS)

Why are our Pregnant mothers dying?
They are dying because of:
· Delay in recognizing danger signs during pregnancy, delivery and after delivery.
· Delay in taking the decision to seek care:- this is sometimes due to our traditional beliefs, customs and taboos, over reliance on inefficient local remedies and inability to decide what to do due to poor knowledge among others.
· Delay in reaching health facilities: - this is due most of the time to lack of transportation, long distances to health facilities, poor roads and the high coat of transportation where they exist.
· Delay at our health facilities even when they reach early:- sometimes this is because of lack of staff, inadequate equipment and supplies, lack of blood and poor staff attitude leading to long waiting times and substandard care at these facilities.

Compounding all these delays is the fact that some women are having too many children and at very close intervals. Some are getting pregnant when they don’t want to. Their inability to access appropriate modern family planning methods leads to termination of pregnancy (abortion) using unhygienic and dangerous methods leading to death and disability including infertility(the inability to get pregnant or have babies in future). Termination of pregnancy is practiced by the old and maternal deaths in our communities.

When a woman dies in childbirth, her baby’s probability of dying is four time that of a child whose mother is alive. I am sure you do not have to look far to remember some of these incidents. Even if the baby survives, his/her education, health and development are seriously affected.

When a women dies, the government loses the resources spent on health and education. The economy loses her contribution to the workforce and the country loses a vital member. Have you thought of how life could have been like if your mother died giving birth to you? Let us all help reduce these unfortunate deaths.

WHAT CAN WE DO?
These is a lot we all do to reduce this devastating problem in our individual capacities, as women, as husbands, as neighbours, as community members, as churches, as media organizations, as transport owners, district assemblies, chiefs, queen mothers and opinion leaders.

The pregnant women should:
· Regularly visit the midwife as soon as she realizes that she is pregnant,
· East a balanced diet
· Have enough rest
· Learn all the danger signs of pregnancy and labour, signs of labour and report to the nearest health facility for care.
· Pregnant women should also make preparations for birth and complications should they arise by arranging for transport in advance, putting some monies aside and having blood donated for them.

Husbands should:
· Be abreast with the danger signs of pregnancy and assist their wives to make decision about their care. To do this, husbands need to acquire the knowledge about pregnancy by paying regular visits with their wives to the hospital or clinic.
· Provide emotional, psychological and financial support to their wives.
· Help to reduce the workload on the pregnant woman.

The community members and the leaders, media and the church, the mosque, organizations, corporate bodies and NGOs can help:
· Raise awareness in communities about signs of life- threatening complications
· Educate women, partners (husbands) and their families about when and where to seek care for complications when they arise.
· Encourage co-operation between communities and health care provides and assist government efforts at upgrading the quality of care at our clinics and hospitals.
· Encourage communities to create insurance schemes or create emergency transportation plan in case of emergency
· Enhance referrals from the community and health facilities.

The death of a woman who is only performing her God-given duty of bearing her community’s future generation is a matter of concern to all.
Each of us can contribute. Let us all unite to save our mothers, sisters, wives and friends.

We brought you this news, by courtesy of Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service (MOH/GHS)

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