9,000 PREGNANT WOMEN TO DIE FROM ANEMIA
From Issah Alhassan, Kumasi
STARTLING Statistics available to the Ghana Health Services indicates that about 9,000 pregnant women stand the risk of maternal mortality if anemia levels during pregnancy do not improve.
According to the 2011 Ghana Nutrition PROFILES Results, iron deficiency anemia was responsible for almost 20% of maternal deaths with fears that the figure is likely to increase should things stay the same way without proper measures being put in place by health authorities.
Currently, Ghana has an unacceptably high maternal mortality ratio of 451 per 100,000 live births, a figure which is far below the international projection by the World Health Organization.
The Statistics also indicate that between 2003 and 2008, the prevalence of anemia (including anemia due to iron deficiency) increased in children under 5, non-pregnant women, and pregnant women.
According to the Deputy Chief Nutrition Officer at the Ghana Health Service, Mrs. Esi Amoaful, iron deficiency anemia is also responsible for many infant deaths in the country, stressing that women who are anemic are more likely to face serious reproductive health problems, which can ultimately lead to maternal and infant death.
She told The Chronicle in an interview that the situation calls for serious attention to be given to the issue of nutrition in the country.
She continued that a national survey among school children showed that about 4 in 10 children are anemic, stressing that these rates are high by any standard, greatly reducing the cost-effectiveness of investments in education and the contribution of children to Ghana’s future development.
‘The prevalence of anemia among pregnant women also increased between 2003 and 2008, from 65% to 70% whilst among non-pregnant women, there was a large increase from 48% to 58%,” she added.
Mrs. Amoaful further noted “iron deficiency anemia in children reduces learning ability and impairs intellectual development, bringing additional cost to the state,”
She noted that Ghana is losing lots of workers’ productivity due to effects of anemia among men and women, especially for those engaged in manual labour, indicating that based on the PROFILES Analysis, it is projected that between 2011 and 2020, GH¢1.9 billion (US$1.3 BN) will be lost in manual labour, including agricultural productivity, as a consequence of iron deficiency anemia.
Mrs. Amoaful also noted that apart from the iron deficiency anemia, another serious nutritional failure that has serious impact on growth of children in particular is iodine deficiency, which she said affects Intelligence Quotient(IQ) in children and also leading mild and severe irreversible brain damage.
She has therefore underscored the need for the country to adopt a comprehensive nutritional policy that will address the shortfalls in nourishment in children and its associated health complications.
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