Maternal mortality in Northern Region declines – NGO

Savana Signatures, a Non-Governmental Organisation in the Northern Region, has develop a technology-based mobile telephony in four project districts of Talon, Yendi, Savelugu and Tamale to reduce maternal mortality.

Statistics from the Northern Regional Health Directorate indicates that in 2009, 96 women died during delivery, 88 women died in 2011, 130 died in 2012, and from January to June 2013, 70 women died during delivery.

Mr Stephen Agbenyo, Executive Director of Savana Signatures, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra as a prelude to the International Women’s Day celebration, commended Star-Ghana for supporting initiatives to reduce maternal mortality in the region.

He said Star-Ghana in 2013 supported Savana Signatures with a grant of 220,000.00 dollars to reduce maternal mortality in four districts in the Northern Region by the end of December 2014.

Savana Signatures, under the agreement, was expected to improve the skills, knowledge and approaches of at least 72 midwives and community health nurses of six health facilities and enhance the use of Information and Communication Technology tools to connect maternal health information.

Mr Agbenyo said within the period Savana Signatures ensured that about 60 per cent of expectant mothers visited six targeted health facilities and had ready access to easy-to-understand maternal health care information frequently than the monthly ante-natal visits.

Savana Signatures conducted a pilot study and realised that most of the women were not literate and decided to develop a voice component to address the issue.

He said expectant mothers received weekly Short Message Service (SMS) in English and voice calls in Dagbani for those who could not read and deliver weekly SMS to literate expectant mothers.

Mr Agbenyo said the technology gave timely information to the expectant mothers on information about their state of pregnancy adding that the pregnant women received periodic information on nutrition, hygiene, signs and symptoms of pregnancy, myths and superstition and preparations towards delivery.

He said the new technology was a monthly block knowledge sharing sessions and had allowed expectant mothers to learn and share their experiences with each other and their midwives as well.

Mr Agbenyo said the NGO would meet a target of 3,000 women in the four districts within nine months and to meet the deadline, the organisation had already registered 2,312 pregnant women on the system.

He expressed the hope that the NGO would exceed the target by the end of the project adding that with the innovative initiative, the organisation conduct a monitoring visit to the hospitals and most of the pregnant women expressed satisfaction about the project.

Mr Agbenyo said a documentary project would be introduced to serve as a complementary education about pregnancy to the expectant mothers aside what was being provided by nurses and midwives.

Maternal mortality is a global challenge as statistics from the United Nations indicates that each year, more than 350,000 women in the developing world aged 15-49 die of pregnancy and child-birth related complications.

About 2.6 million children are stillborn, and a further 8.1 million die before their fifth birthday, including 3.3 million babies in the first month of life.

Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 87 per cent (313,000) of global maternal deaths. A woman’s lifetime risk of dying from pregnancy is one in 3700 in North America as compared to one in 16 in Africa, according to the World Health Organisation.

Ghana is lagging behind in attaining the Millennium Development Goals four and five. This target is aimed at reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.

A recent Ghana Health Service report shows that the country recorded 1,022 maternal deaths in 2011, representing 173 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is an increase from 166 per 100,000 live births in 2010. GNA

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