News / Africa

Maternity Mortality Remains High in Ghana

Joana Mantey
In Ghana, government policy allows pregnant women access health care and skilled delivery services, but deaths due to pregnancy and related causes remain high. 

Lack of professional assistance

Talata, a 38-year-old housewife in the Upper East region was being assisted to deliver her eighth child at home when she started having difficulties.  All of Talata’s babies were born in a home setting so she never sought help from professionals when labor started.  Unfortunately she suffered retention of the placenta and her life ended while trying to bring life into the world.

Like Talata, many other Ghanaian women have suffered similar fates, for every 100,000 Ghanaian women who go into labor, 350 die while giving birth.

Free maternal care and other government programs are achieving results in some areas of the country.  In the Kwabre District of the Ashanti region for example, no woman died in childbirth in the early part of last year.

The situation in the Northern, Upper east and Upper West regions are different.  These are areas identified with low levels of assisted births by health workers.  

Causes

Also, cultural and religious myths play significant roles in the lives of expectant mothers.  The situation is further worsened by limited educational opportunities for women in these places.

Gloria Quansah-Asare is a medical officer and director at the Ghana Health Service.  She says failure to recognize symptoms of danger during pregnancy is one of the factors leading to maternal deaths in rural communities. “Some women do not know that when the feet are swollen, and she is having headache and blurry vision and her whole face is swollen, it does not mean she is going to have boy or twins.  It means she is having some problems and has to be seen,” she explained.

Traditional beliefs are fostering misconceptions.  
 
Chairman Jonathan Adabre of the Ghana coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations in Health in the Upper East region, says there is some sensitization on the importance of prenatal care in the three regions, but people still go along with traditional myths surrounding proper nutrition during pregnancy.  

“Pregnant women are not allowed in some communities to take eggs because [of the belief that] when you eat eggs and give birth, the child can become a thief in future," Adabre stated. "In some communities women are not allowed to take chicken.  We are educated so you will think that is not important, but for the community members it is an issue”

Male partners

Another challenge is lack of women’s empowerment in the affected areas.  Decisions about health-care choices are often left in the hands of male partners, and most Ghanaian women also find difficulties negotiating safe sex or asserting their reproductive rights.

Adabre says sometimes, a male partner consults a soothsayer to make pronouncements on the outcome of an expected delivery before a woman in labor is sent to a clinic to deliver.  That may delay efforts in seeking professional care and could end with disastrous consequences.

“Now the father who has the responsibility in consulting the soothsayer comes back and says the gods have decreed that this delivery should not be done outside.  It means you cannot go to the health center to deliver," Adabre noted. "And usually at a community level, they don't have the proper timing of the pregnancy.  So at the time the woman is experiencing labor, this is the time that he now picks to consult the ancestors."

Even for those cleared by soothsayers to seek professional help, bad roads and other geographical barriers serve as major hazards especially in the Yagaba Kubori area, and Sandema in the Upper East region.  These places are inaccessible to vehicles during the rainy season and women due for childbirth are ferried across rivers in canoes.  

Rituals

Other rituals such as confining mothers in a room for three days after childbirth can lead to infection and possible death.

Adabre says there is need for active community involvement and management in ongoing programs on maternal health.  Community Health Committees for example, have been established to compliment the work of health care providers.

Unfortunately, Adabre says most of them lack sufficient resources.  He says activating these groupings would help community leaders to deal effectively with issues of taboos and soothsaying.  That would also help Ghana achieve a significant reduction in the number of women who die as a result of childbearing.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid