High maternal deaths partly blamed on “evil eye”

A Civil Society Organisation, SEND-GHANA has expressed worry over the annual increase of maternal death cases in the Upper East region and has therefore urged stakeholders in the health sector to increase the level of education on maternal health issues.

Speaking at a two-day intensive maternal health training for 26 Community Maternal Health Champions selected across the region, Madam Gifty Damsongor, acting Regional Health Promotion Officer at the Upper East Regional Hospital mentioned that, in spite of all the efforts being made at reducing maternal and child mortality, the situation is getting worse.

According to her, the current situation can partly be attributed to a belief that, a spiritual force can destroy the foetus if it is noticed at its formation stage and this is what is locally referred to as “evil eye.” “We have realised that, this cultural belief of the people contribute to keeping pregnant women at home.” 

Based on the above believe, the pregnant women in their first trimester do not report to the health centres for antenatal but rather wait till they see the stomach protruding. It is believed that at this stage the foetus will survive any “evil eye.” 

There are several risks that are associated with pregnancy and a monitoring during antenatal will help identify such risks. 

Madam Damsongor complained that, when one does not come for antenatal until the day of delivery it becomes difficult to minimize some of these risks.

She argued that, most of the mothers only come to register and do not come again until they are in labour or put to bed at home. 

According to her, you only see them when it is time for immunization. “In this situation, if a complication set in it becomes difficult to help them.”

We are overwhelmed with these challenges. This is why we are happy SEND-GHANA is involving the traditional leaders who can help demystify the myth surrounding the “evil eye” in order to reduce maternal deaths, she said.

This calls for more education on the importance of antenatal during pregnancy, Mrs. Abena Yirenkyiwa Afari, a Christian Aid Governance Programme Officer advised. 

Whiles other countries are recording 4/100,000 live births, Ghana’s statistics for 2014 stands at 380/100,000 live births.

According to Mrs. Afari, the bad news is that women are still dying from pregnancy related complications. “The statistics are unacceptable. But the good news is that we still have opportunities to do something about the situation which is why we have gathered here to train Community Champions in a bid to contribute to reducing the unacceptable maternal mortality situation.”

On her part, SEND-GHANA's Director of advocacy, Ms. Clara Osei-Boateng believes that, it is pathetic for women to die as a result of giving birth and therefore we must do all we can to prevent this from happening so that Ghana will be a better place for women to live, conceive, deliver and raise children.

A volunteer development worker, Renee Wassick is not happy with the situation. She said, “this is one of my biggest concerns in the Upper East Region. I have seen too many friends who have lost their babies in the hospitals when it could have been prevented.”

The training forms part of European Commission (EU) funded “Improving Maternal Health Service Delivery through Participatory Governance (IMPROVE)” project being implemented by Christian Aid and SEND-GHANA.

The project is being implemented in 30 districts across Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions is in collaboration with Ghana Health Service (GHS).

Key facts on maternal mortality

Information available on World Health Organisation website indicates that:

• Every day, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.

• 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.

• Maternal mortality is higher in women living in rural areas and among poorer communities.

• Young adolescents face a higher risk of complications and death as a result of pregnancy than older women.

• Skilled care before, during and after childbirth can save the lives of women and newborn babies.

• Between 1990 and 2013, maternal mortality worldwide dropped by almost 50%.


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SEND Ghana
Box A28 Regimanuel Estates,
Nungua Barrier, Sakumono,

Tel: +233 (0) 302 716830 / 302 716860