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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More