General News Thu, 15 Jan 2004

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High maternal mortality blamed on poor health services

Bolgatanga, Jan. 15, GNA - Poor quality care provided at health facilities, the lack of transport in emergency cases and long distances to health facilities have been identified as major factors contributing to the high maternal mortality in the Kassena Nankana District. The negative attitude of some health workers also keeps some pregnant women away from seeking medical help during delivery, research findings on: "The Prevention of Deaths During Child Birth" in the Kassena Nankana District, have shown.

Dr Samuel Mills of the Navrongo Health Research Centre (NHRC) conducted the research that involved a study of a population of about 140,000 to find out whether hospitals or health centres provided good quality care to women who delivered there.

It was also to find out why the majority of women went to doctors, nurses and midwives for antenatal care but not for delivery. The study found that many of the respondents were not only aware of the concept of supervised delivery by health personnel, but also accepted it.

Despite this awareness, only 44 percent of women received assistance from doctors and midwives to have their babies, the study said.

The research findings showed that traditional beliefs and practices were no longer major barriers to the use of obstetric care services. A traditional healer who was one of the respondents said, "I don't think there is any reason for not attending antenatal care. It was in the olden days that people had superstitious beliefs, but everybody is enlightened now and we have seen the benefits of going for antenatal care and would always encourage our pregnant women to go for antenatal care."

Dr Mills, who was presenting his research findings to the chiefs and elders of the area, said crucial procedures such as the manual removal of retained placenta, intravenous antibiotics, blood transfusion, the use of manual vacuum aspirator for miscarriages, vacuum extraction for prolonged labour, that were essential for safe delivery were not provided at the health centres and clinics.

The last study on maternal mortality carried by the NHRC showed that 637 out of 100,000 women who gave birth in the Kassena Nankana District were likely to die as compared to the national figure of 540 deaths per 100,000 births.

He suggested to the Ghana Health Service to provide emergency means of transport to health institutions and equip them to provide safe delivery.

Dr Mills said it would be best to train midwives and doctors in provider-client relations and in manual removal of placenta as well as in the use of a manual vacuum aspirator. 15 Jan. 04

Source: GNA

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