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General News Wed, 3 Dec 2003

Maternal mortality in Ghana still high - report

Zabzugu (N/R), Dec. 3, GNA - Ghana's maternal mortality ratio is still high, recording one death per every 35 women during pregnancy or child birth.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) report released recently puts the maternal mortality ratio in the country at 540 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Dr Elias Sory, Northern Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), said this at the regional launch of "Save Motherhood Week" at Zabzugu in the Zabzugu/Tatale District on Monday.

The Week, which is on the theme: "Death in pregnancy and childbirth is preventable - Act now", is to draw public attention to the danger maternal death poses to the country.

Dr Sory said the GHS registered 43 maternal deaths in its health facilities throughout the country between January and June with the Northern Region accounting for 25 of them.

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Dr Sory said most cases of maternal deaths are preventable and that the GHS is adopting measures to enhance safe motherhood services in health facilities, to guarantee the reproductive health rights of women and address the problem of unsafe abortion.

He called on the district assemblies, health workers, religious leaders, women's groups and the youth to come out with innovative actions to stem maternal deaths in the region.

In a speech read for him to launch the week, Mr Ernest Debrah, the Regional Minister, said pregnancy, childbirth and abortion continue to pose a danger to women worldwide.

Mr Debrah said about 500,000 women die of complications of pregnancy and childbirth, most of these occurring in the developing countries. He said the government's health service sector objective had been the improvement of the physical and financial access of women to maternal health.

"This is exemplified by the exemptions from the payment of user fees for antenatal and postnatal services to all women, under the HIPC initiative." He said under the initiative, all women in labour are also to enjoy free delivery services while the training of midwives in safe motherhood clinic skills is on-going to provide quality care at delivery.

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The Regional Minister appealed to the GPRTU and other transport organizations to volunteer to convey women in labour, especially those in the rural communities, to the nearest health facility.

Dr Zakaria Seidu, the District Director of Health, said the government has provided 281.2 million cedis to pay for the exemptions for pregnant women in the district.

Dr Seidu attributed the high incidence of maternal deaths in the district to the pregnant women's preference for locally prepared concoctions to modern drugs.

Source: GNA