North Records 250 Maternal Deaths In One Year
From Edmond Gyebi, Tamale
In 2011 alone, a total of 131 pregnant women died in the region, but the figure inconsiderably reduced to 119 in 2012.
The Northern Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Akwasi Twumasi is still alarmed by the 2012 figure of 119, since it sought to defeat his campaign against the high maternal mortalities.
Speaking at the 2012 Annual Performance Review Meeting of the Ghana Health Service in Tamale, Dr. Twumasi, however, attributed the high maternal deaths to several factors, including inadequate health facilities and logistics, inadequate midwives and other health professionals, delay in referring women in labour and the poor road networks in the Northern Region.
Meanwhile, the Northern Regional Health Directorate, under the Chairmanship of Dr. Akwasi Twumasi has since 2010 announced its commitment to ensure a Zero Maternal Death case in the region, but the crusade seems to be far from recording any significant success due to the overwhelming challenges.
However, the 2012 Annual Performance Review was under the theme: “Addressing the challenges of maternal and child health services – the role of quality health data”. The Northern Region, according to Dr. Twumasi has 22 hospitals, 415 CHPS compounds and seven polyclinics with a total of 4, 210 staff. He described the low staff strength as a major challenge facing the health sector in the region.
He revealed that, till date, some districts in the region did not have hospitals, including Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo, Central Gonja, Nanumba South, Sawla-Tuna-Kalba and Tolon-Kumbungu, and the five newly created ones.
Calling for the construction of more health centres in the region, the Northern Regional Health Director also appealed to government and the Ministry of Health to post more personnel to the region and also take steps to sanction those who refuse posting to the region.
Dr. Twumasi however revealed that the Out Patients Department (OPD) attendance increased from 1,589,509 in 2011 to 1,815,525 in 2012, with malaria cases representing 46.6% for both years.
Regrettably, 19.1% of the malaria cases resulted in deaths in 2012, as compared to 18.9% in 2011. Cases of OPD attendance due to hypertension also increased from 41,167 in 2011 to 52,924 in 2012.
On the other hand, he called on the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies in the region to support the health sector with decent accommodation to help retain the personnel how accept posting to the communities.
In a speech read for him by the Coordinating Director, Alhaji Alhassan Issahaku, the Northern Regional Minister, Moses Bukari Mabengba assured that government would continue to put high premium on the implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme.
He urged the participants at the review meeting to intensively discuss the issue of maternal death and come out with practicable solution.
According to the Minister, government was aware of the challenges facing the health sector workers in delivering service to the people in the vast region, including the poor road network and the unbridged rivers and streams as well as the prevalence of some negative cultural practices.
He maintained that only a healthy population can bring about improved productivity, increased Gross Domestic Product and economic growth.
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