Coalition expresses worry over maternal and newborn deaths

The MamaYe Advocacy Coalition, a group made up of 40 civil society organisations, has expressed displeasure at the increasing rate of maternal and newborn deaths in government hospitals.

Picketing at the opening ceremony of the 2015 Health Partners’ Summit at the Ghana Institute of Public Administration (GIMPA), the Coalition members demanded government’s immediate action on falling standard in women, children and adolescent’s health.

They demanded, among other things, that the Government should make money available immediately to the hospitals to reduce pressures on the facilities and health workers, especially at the Tema General Hospital.

Clad in white T-shirts, the y held placards some of which read: “Less talk, more action on maternal and newborn health,” “We’ve had it,” “It is not natural to die from pregnancy and childbirth,” and “One V8 can build a 35-bed maternity ward.”

Ms Vicky T. Okine, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights, addressing the summit, said an anonymous source at the Tema General Hospital revealed that 20 women lost their lives between January and April, this year, through pregnancy-related complications.

She said it was due largely to the state of the maternity unit and in the same period 85 babies were born dead while 68 died in the first week of life.

Ms Okine expressed dismay at the deteriorated state of the Tema General Hospital which managed an average of 1,000 deliveries every year.

“The condition under which our health officials work is appalling. The facility is usually overcrowded with women seeking basic obstetric care every day. One cannot ignore the visible frustration etched on the faces of the health officials.

“It is time for us, as a country, to ask some hard questions. Why should four women who just delivered share one bed with their four babies? In all, eight persons share one bed. It is dehumanizing,” she said.

Ms Okine said the situation was unbearable for the many women who attended the facility for basic maternal health services as well as the skilled birth attendants who were breaking their backs to ensure that the women survived childbirth.

She chided politicians who were very much aware of the deplorable state of the hospitals but had failed to address the situation in spite of the numerous promises made.

“All those politicians should be ashamed of themselves. I stand here to make an appeal on behalf of pregnant women in Ghana that the Government should ensure that the maternity ward at the Tema General Hospital is completed with dispatch,” she said.

Ms Okine said the maternity ward had been left uncompleted since the country hosted the CAN 2008 tournament and the women and their children kept dying.

“Pregnancy and childbirth don’t constitute a disease. Each death can be prevented,” Ms Okine said.

Out of every 100,000 live births, 380 women died, the Maternal Mortality Inter-Agency Group report said. That is more than a double of the casualty recorded in the Germanwings plane crash on the French Alps in March 2015.

Ms Okine said lives of families, especially children, were disrupted and marred when a mother died and called on the Government, and the ministries of Finance and Health to increase investment and spending on health of women, children and adolescents.

“The cost of one V8 Toyota Landcruiser for example can build a 35-bed ward at the Tema facility,” she said. GNA

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