When the topic of pregnancy is raised, most people have a lot of thoughts concerning the topic since it is a dicey topic not just in Ghana, but Sub-Saharan Africa.
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The World Health Organisation defines Maternal death or maternal mortality as "the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes.
According to the WHO, about 830 women die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications every day with 99% of these deaths occurring in developing countries, with more than half of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
Women in less developed countries have, on average, many more pregnancies than women in developed countries, and their lifetime risk of death due to pregnancy is higher. A woman’s lifetime risk of maternal death is the probability that a 15 year old woman will eventually die from a maternal cause. In high income countries, this is 1 in 5400, versus 1 in 45 in low income countries.
In the 1990’s maternal mortality rates in Ghana were so high that maternal mortality was declared an epidemic. This drew the attention of non-governmental organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and the World Bank Group. The organizations vowed work together with the government of Ghana to find solutions to the menace.
The problem was included in the Millennium Development Goal. It was named Goal 5, which was aimed at improving maternal health.
The aim of the goal was to reduce the maternal mortality rate by two thirds by the year 2015. They also targeted provision of reproductive health to everyone by the year 2015. These goals are slowly being achieved with the strategies and programs being incorporated.
According to the WHO, as carried in an earlier report by YEN.com.gh, the causes of maternal mortality rate in Ghana can be classified into two; direct and indirect deaths.
Direct causes are those that result from the pregnancy. Obstetric factors like ectopic pregnancy, obstructed labor and unsafe abortions can also be a cause of maternal mortality in Ghana. This cause is mostly prevalent among the teeming Ghanaian youth who through their actions and inactions get pregnant. In a bid to get rid of the pregnancy, they opt for any possible means to end the pregnancy.
Improper maternal care during the 9 months of pregnancy. In most rural settings due to poverty, most women do not have funds to spare to attend antenatal checkups; a practice which could have averted any kind of danger detected during pregnancy.
On the other hand, indirect causes are those that occur during the pregnancy period and have no relation to the pregnancy
Paolo Patruno in a project titled “Birth is a Dream,” revealed that the main issues that are behind pregnancy were the same no matter where you are in Africa.
He reveled that circumstances like rural versus city living played a huge role in pregnancy and maternal health issues which is more of a social issue.
Also in Africa, superstition plays a huge role in maternal and neonatal mortality. In Ghana, for instance, it was a taboo for any pregnant woman to give birth in Mafi-Dove, a rural community in the Volta Region. According to them, there would be serious calamities in the community if any child is birthed on the soils of the community. This, according to most women was a worry as often times some pregnant women do not come back with their babies or do not return alive at all, since they have to travel to a neighboring community to put to bed.
The absence of health centres in some communities in rural areas have made it quite hard for most pregnant women to seek medical attention during their pregnancy. Their inability to access healthcare during pregnancy makes pregnant women in those parts of the country vulnerable to any pregnancy related complication.
Not just improper care, poverty, superstition, but distance to health centres, lack of education, lack of services, and cultural practices all play roles in the high rate of maternal mortality in Ghana and the Sub-Saharan African region.
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Solutions and Ideas to end maternal mortality
In a bid to help reduce maternal mortality in Ghana, the government can do these things to help reduce the rate at which women die during pregnancy in Ghana.
Technology has become the driving force to well developed economies. Countries cannot afford but to find very innovative, efficient and effective ways to ensure their advancement and validity.
The government needs to find new ways of rolling out human transformational projects since the old ways are obviously yielding little or no results.
The Sustainable Development Goal 3 clearly states that Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.
The second goal within the goal targets that by 2030, preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1000 live births. With that being said, the government should endeavor to strive to achieve the SDG 3
Pregnant women should also ensure that they get proper medical attention during pregnancy as well as after child birth too. Making easy access to health facilities and quality health care will reduce maternal and neonatal mortality drastically.
Community Based Health Planning and Service (CHIP) compounds
These CHIPs compounds should be structured in a way that can cater for maternal health, since their objective is to improve Primary Health Care (PHC) and provide accessible, equitable, quality and efficient primary healthcare and family planning services to all Ghanaians, irrespective of where they are located. Pregnant women should be able to access antenatal care at CHIPs compounds in areas where they do not have access to the bigger health facilities.
Sex education on the use and provision of contraceptive for women especially the youths, which will prevent abortion and teenage pregnancy causes of maternal death.
Traditional birth attendants
Traditional birth attendants who have little or no experience as well as the old ways of doing things should be educated on the advanced ways of pregnancy care as well as delivery to help save lives and avoid maternal and neonatal deaths.
In conclusion, for Ghana to make a headway in tackling maternal mortality which keeps making headlines, it is important for the government to pay attention to primary health care delivery in the country, sex education, and also ensure that most health centres and not just big facilities have the right technology to cater for pregnant women.
READ ALSO: Mafi-Dove, the village in Ghana where childbirth and burial are banned
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