Doctors from mainly the public health facilities in the Volta Region are meeting in Ho to brainstorm the current state of obstetrics care and its impact on maternal health in the region.
They would scrutinize the drawbacks and chart a course to tackle them.
The meeting, one of the series for professional groups variously responsible for obstetric care, is under the aegis of the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV).
Dr Eric Yoa Amakpa, a gynecologist, using statistics from the Volta Regional Hospital, where he works, said the forum was timely as the situation was quite grim.
He said out of 631 live births in 2007, seven mothers died, eight out of 588 in 2008 and 10 so far have died in 2009 out of 554.
Dr Amakpa observed that “most of the deaths that occur in the region are not reported and most of them are not audited.”
He said the world statistics of 90 percent of the 1,600 daily deaths from pregnancy and its complications, happening in Sub-Saharan and Asia with only one percent in developed countries, raises the danger flag for Ghana.
He said though the figures from the Regional Hospital, which is a tertiary referral facility, might not be a total reflection of the regional status, it nonetheless illustrates the problem quite well.
Dr Amakpa listed severe bleeding; sepsis; eclampsia, which is attack of convulsions, high blood pressure and other complications in late pregnancy; and unsafe abortions as some of the main causes of pregnancy related deaths in the region and elsewhere in Ghana.
He said delays in identifying and evaluating danger signs, reaching facilities and giving attention are some of the factors influencing maternal deaths in the region.
Dr Amakpa said there were also problems of logistics, staff and skills inadequacies as well as cost of care and these must be worked on towards tackling the problem of maternal deaths. He criticized the ‘growing pregnancy related sentimentalism” in Ghana, which he explained as:”pregnant women consulting and doing the bidding of their spiritual mentors rather than the health professionals.”
Dr Amakpa advised church leaders to continue to pray for the pregnant but encourage them to follow the schedules of their health facilities.
Dr Geoffrey Nyamuame, Medical Superintendent of the Volta Regional Hospital and the acting Volta Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), tasked the doctors to lead the way in bringing improvement in the management of maternal cases.
He expressed regret that despite numerous interventions by various governments maternal and child health care indicators were still poor.
Mr Nick Commandeur, SNV, Eastern Portfolio Coordinator, said the change that would make an impact in emergency obstetrics care must not necessarily come in a big way.