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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs