Health News of 2014-07-16

‘Lack of facilities affect emergency maternal health care’

A study conducted by SEND Ghana, a civil society organisation, has established that lack of critical equipment and logistics in health facilities in some parts of the country tends to have serious implications on delivery of emergency maternal health care.

The research also showed that some districts did not have hospitals or other health facilities, which made pregnant women to travel long distances to access health care, while lack of equipment such as ultra-sound scanners, delivery beds, oxygen equipment, ambulance service and inadequate facilities at the blood bank compounded the problem in those areas.

At a national dialogue meeting on the report in Accra, a Programme Officer at SEND Ghana, Ms Harriet Nuamah-Agyemang, said some hospitals did not have the full complement of health professionals to support family planning and maternal health care.

The stakeholders’ dialogue, held on the theme, “Halting needless death of women: The need for priority investment in maternal healthcare delivery in Ghana”, deliberated on the report to find solutions to the problems.

Ms Nuamah-Agyemang further explained that some health facilities denied pregnant women the full benefits of the free maternal care policy under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). She said the research indicated that some aspects, which form part of the Free Maternal Health Care Policy, were not fully implemented.

For instance, she said the policy made provision for free feeding for in-patients who were insured and using the NHIS accredited facilities, yet the facilities did not provide such services for the clients.

“Although they are registered with the NHIS, some pregnant women and those who visited health facilities for post-partum care continued to pay for some services such as ultra-sound scan and some laboratory examination which were part of the package”, she said.

“What is more worrying is that demands for pregnant women to provide items such as Dettol antiseptic, soap and Mackintosh rubber sheets, which are supposed to be given to them for free, sometimes deter them from accessing the facilities,” he said.

SEND Ghana, therefore, recommended to the government to increase its financial commitments to improve maternal health care and family planning services, pointing out that the Ghana Health Service (GHS) should make it mandatory for the district health directorates to consistently use defined percentage of their internally generated fund to support maternal health care.

While acknowledging the challenges in the health sector, the Deputy Director of Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation of the GHS, Mr Charles Adjei Acquah, said there was the need to appreciate efforts of the government at providing quality health care.

He said more health personnel were being trained to step up the human resource capacity in providing healthcare services. The Chairperson for SEND West Africa, Mr Siapha Kamara, urged the media to educate the public on what the government was doing in the health sector, the challenges and the success story.

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