Ghanaian Chronicle

Bagbin goes mad over maternal deaths … Threatens to promote lawsuits against health personnel

Date published: September 12, 2012

Hon.Alban Sumani Bagbin, Minister for Water Resources, Works & Housing

“We have had reports of some doctors negligently leaving scissors and other surgical tools in the wombs of women and stitching the opening together. We have also received reports of nurses and midwives refusing to attend to agonizing women in labour leading to undue delays, excessive bleeding and deaths.

“Some of you (health personnel) are also accused of beating women in labour and subjecting them to all sorts of intimidations which continue to endanger the lives of most of our women at the labour wards.

“So how can you convince me that the fault is not from us, when government on its part has provided the best of facilities in Tamale, Yendi, Gushegu, Karaga, Zabzugu-Tatale and other areas but yet that is where most of the deaths are recorded?”From Edmond Gyebi, Tamale

The Minister of Health, Alban Sumani Kingsford Bagbin, has noted that it is unacceptable for Ghana to continue to lose more women through child delivery, as a result of the rude and unprofessional conduct of some health personnel at the various health facilities.

According to Mr. Bagbin, he could not comprehend why well-motivated, professionally-trained and experienced health personnel, provided with all the necessary tools and logistics, and as well, operating from standardised health facilities, could still jeopardise the lives of pregnant women.

Addressing a number of senior health staff in Tamale during his ongoing familiarisation tour of the Northern Region, the Health Minister threatened to lead a crusade, or instigate the various women advocates and other individual Ghanaians to begin to institute legal actions against reckless health personnel and institutions, in order to curtail the incidence of maternal mortalities in the country.

The Northern Region alone, between 2011 and the first half of 2012 (January to June), recorded as high as 200 maternal deaths. A total number of 130 women died in 2011, and 70 deaths in the first half of 2012, which is an indication that the region was fast losing the fight against the maternal mortality.

Sadly, 56 of the women who died in 2012, representing 86.2%, were between the ages of 20-34 years, three of them, representing 4.6%, were also between 15 and 19 years, followed by six, representing 9.2%, for the age group of 35 years and above.

Out of 70 women who died between January and June 2012, 65 were institutional, and five community deaths. Besides, out of a total of 65 institutional maternal deaths, 32 (49.2%) occurred at the Tamale Teaching Hospital, six (9.2%) from Yendi, five (7.7%) from West Mamprusi, four (6.2%) from the Bole and Gushegu Districts, threee (4.6%) from East Mamprusi, two (3.8%) each from the Zabzugu-Tatale, East Gonja, Tolon Kumbungu and Savelugu-Nanton districts. Chereponi, Karaga and Saboba Districts recorded one (1.9%) death each.

Even though the Northern Regional Health Director, Dr. Akwasi Twumasi, attributed the causes of maternal mortality in the region to the insufficient number of midwives and other critical health personnel, coupled with inadequate health facilities and bad road networks, resulting in unnecessary delays in transferring pregnant women to other deserving centres for proper attention, the Health Minister held almost a contrary view, as he openly blamed the situation on the behaviour of some of the personnel.

“We have had reports of some doctors negligently leaving scissors and other surgical tools in the wombs of women and stitching the opening together. We have also received reports of nurses and midwives refusing to attend to agonising women in labour, leading to undue delays, excessive bleeding and deaths.

“Some of you (health personnel) are also accused of beating women in labour, and subjecting them to all sorts of intimidations, which continue to endanger the lives of most of our women at the labour wards. So, how can you convince me that the fault is not from us, when [the] government, on its part, has provided the best of facilities in Tamale, Yendi, Gushegu, Karaga, Zabzugu-Tatale and other areas, but yet, that is where most of the deaths are recorded.”

The Minister further stated that he would soon organise a press conference to inform Ghanaians as to why some of these irresponsible, or ill-behaved health personnel, should not go unpunished, or face the harshness of the law.

The Health Minister and his team, led by the Northern Regional Director of Health Services, Dr. Akwasi Twumasi, proceeded to Gushegu, where he inspected the ultra-modern Gushegu Government Hospital, commissioned the Gushegu Post Basic Midwifery Training School, and held a meeting with the health staff and assembly members in the district.

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