About one million women die every year in developing countries due to unhygienic environments and poor practices at the time of birth, according to Wendy Graham, a Professor of Maternal Health at the Aberdeen UniversityAccording to her, almost 100 per cent of these deaths are preventable and that effective and low-cost interventions can help prevent and manage delivery-related infections.
Professor Wendy Graham was addressing a stakeholders’ meeting on clean delivery in Accra, to chart the way forward on delivery predicaments where there was consensus that maternal mortality was on the rise, hence efforts should be made to reduce it to the barest minimum.
The meeting was part of efforts by Soapbox initiative supported by the Burnland Trust, to help save the lives of mothers and babies in the poorest countries of the world.
Professor Wendy Graham, who is spear heading the initiative noted that, clean delivery should be universally available and that it was a basic human right.
The initiative is therefore an effort to reduce deaths and ill-health from delivery-related infections which according to her was long overdue.
“This requires speaking out or to use the age-old phrase “to get on a soapbox” to draw attention to the clean birth cause, catalyzing and funding improvements in the practices of health workers and the facility environment in which women deliver, be this small birthing units, health centres, or small district hospitals
The initiative seek to provide evidence of the benefits from ensuring births are clean; raising awareness and continuing support for the importance of clean care at birth, working with local communities through to international leaders as well as collaborate with relevant local, national and international champions and groups working in the same developing countries, districts, communities or health facilities”, she said.
Dr Sam Adjei, Executive Director of the Centre for Health and Social Services, noted that, Ghana was off target in relation to the Millennium Development Goal five and needed to re-strategise to accelerate the implementation of programmes to reduce maternal health.
One area of concern, he said, was infection control during child delivery to ensure that mothers and babies experience clean birth in health facilities through the improvement of practices of health workers in facilities through awareness creation.
According to Dr Adjei, it was crucial for cleaners and supervisors to be trained to understand the importance of cleanliness.
He said one major challenge was the unavailability of water and that only 60 per cent of facilities had potable water; adding that, availability of detergents, soap, disposal of biological waste, implementation of nursing barrier, wearing of protective clothing continued to be a threat to clean birth.
Dr. Irene Agyepong, Greater Accra Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service, said challenges in the health sector was not only about inadequacies but was also about increasing fragmentation of resources from both local and international partners.
She said the initiative was excellent but if it was not well debated, the purpose can be defeated and noted that people were not realising the power of ideas and creativity which could turn the fortunes of the sector around, adding that resources to health professionals should be decentralised to achieve better results.**