- On December 30, 2014
Listen To The Story
The Amansie West District in the Ashanti Region recorded four maternal, in 2011, five in 2012 and 6 deaths in 2013. The trend shows a worrying annual increment in maternal mortality in the district in spite of ongoing interventions such as the millennium project, which is also contributing to the fight against maternal deaths.
The Matron of the St. Martin’s Hospital, made this known during a validation workshop organised by SEND-GHANA and Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) to authenticate data collected in the district for its research work on maternal healthcare and family planning services provision.
The deaths, which were mostly recorded at St. Martins Catholic hospital, were as a result of haemorrhage and late arrivals at the hospital due to delay at the lower level health facilities.
The St. Martins hospital is a missionary institution and the only referral facility in the Amansie West district. Ironically the Amansie West is the second largest district in the Ashanti region.
In addition neither the hospital nor the district health directorate has a blood bank or an ambulance service. During emergencies requiring blood transfusion or referrals, Amansie West district has had to fall on the Bekwai district or the regional capital, Kumasi for these services.
In a passionate appeal to the Ghana Health Service (GHS), a hospital official has called for stringent punishment for health personnel whose negligence results in maternal deaths. ‘In fact delays at the lower level facilities are becoming too much. Most often patients arrive from communities in state of shock and at a point where reviving them yields no results. It is about time the GHS begin to punish health personnel for their negligence. Quite apart from this, we also need a blood bank and ambulance services in the district to enable us save the lives of our women,’ he lamented.
Poor road network, cost of transportation, poverty and entrenched socio-cultural norms aggravates the already bad situation and contribute in no small way to delay in reaching referral facilities during emergencies. ‘One can spend an hour or more to St. Martin’s Hospital when the journey could be made in 30 minutes or less’ commented another participant.
Under this circumstance many drivers charge exorbitant fares which also deter the poor and vulnerable from seeking professional medical care and compel them to rather resort to religious or cultural rituals with its attendant consequences.
With a population of 134,331, this rural and deprived district can boost of only 17 government health facilities comprising 12 CHPS compounds and 5 health centres, with the private sector augmenting with four (4) facilities made up of one hospital and three maternity homes.
In terms of human resource requirement, the district has only five (5) doctors who work at the referral hospital, two (2) medical assistants, two (2) anaesthetists, two (2) pharmacists, 10 laboratory technician/technologist, 22 midwives, 32 general nurses, 70 community health officers and four (4) health education promotion officers. The St. Martins’ hospital alone has 70 out of the 147 health personnel including technicians, who render maternal healthcare services to the people in the district.
In order to reverse the mortality trend in the district, SEND-GHANA recommends that the Health Directorate, District Assembly, Department of Feeder Roads as well as the National Ambulance Service should collaborate to improve on the road network, establish an ambulance centre and a blood bank in the district.
This will facilitate the provision of emergency services including the speedy movement of patients to higher level facilities in a timely manner in the hope to save lives.
Equally important is the need for the Health Directorate, Traditional Authority and the Amansie West Chapter of the Ghana Private Road and Transport Union to work in partnership to transport pregnant women in labour, especially those with complications, to the health facilities without demanding for fares on the spot but to later have an understanding for settlement later.
The Health Directorate must also step up supervision to all facilities particularly those in very remote areas to ensure that health personnel keep to professional standards in providing basic obstetric care to pregnant women including those in labour and make timely referrals to avoid fatalities.
The death of one pregnant woman is a taboo and an affront to womanhood and must not be encouraged.
Every woman has the right to live as they discharge nature’s given role of reproduction to perpetuate future generations.
More than ever the time has come to put a stop to these needless deaths and therefore government as well as citizens must play our respective roles to win the war against maternal deaths.