The Ghana Health Service (GHS) in the Upper East Region says the Bawku Municipality and its surrounding Districts have recorded 15 maternal deaths out of a total of 24 deaths recorded in the Region in 2021 mid-year.
It says the Bawku Presbyterian Hospital recorded 12 deaths, while Pusiga, Garu and the Tempane Districts recorded a death each, which had increased the number of deaths in the Hospital from six in 2020 to nine in 2021 mid-year.
Giving a general overview of the Region’s health performance at the 2021 mid-year review meeting, Dr Josephat Nyuzaghl, the Upper East Deputy Regional Director of the GHS in charge of Public Health, said sepsis, haemorrhage and eclampsia were the top three causes of the deaths.
“The month of June was busy for Bawku Presbyterian Hospital. It appeared almost on every other day, there was a death in the Bawku Municipality”.
The review meeting afforded the GHS in the Region the opportunity to take stock of its performances for the 2021 half year, re-strategize to achieve their set targets by end of the year, and make suggestions to help shape policies of the Service.
The meeting was on the theme; “Harnessing the contributions of stakeholders in reducing the high occurrences of maternal deaths in the Upper East Region.”
Dr Nyuzaghl said out of the total number of maternal deaths in the Bawku Municipality, seven of the deaths were recorded in June 2021, and indicated that the same number of pregnant women walked into the Bawku Presbyterian Hospital for delivery.
“So they were clients that were attending Ante-Natal care in the Hospital, or perhaps Health Centres within the Municipality and came there to deliver and died. If you look at the entire maternal deaths in the Region, 13 pregnant women walked in, 11 of them were referred,” he said.
He noted that it was not entirely the fault of the Bawku Presbyterian Hospital, as some of the cases referred to the Hospital from the Districts reported in bad state, saying “If these Districts had District Hospitals, probably these cases wouldn’t have been referred to Bawku.”
Dr Nyuzaghl noted that the deaths mostly occurred in persons between the ages of 30 to 34 years, “We lost quite a number of them unfortunately in the theatre, either due to anaesthetic complications or some other complications that developed in theatre.”
He added that three teenagers also died as a result of pregnancy related complications, “These could have been avoided if we are able to work on early child marriages and family planning.
“There was one woman we lost, she had 10 children and was carrying the 11th pregnancy. This could be a missed opportunity as far as family planning services are concerned. So the issue of family planning is critical if we are to make progress on maternal mortality in the Region.”
He said 13 out of the total number of pregnant women, representing 54 per cent of those who died visited the Ante-Natal Clinic (ANC) at least four times, “We had encounters with them four times, so there are issues regarding the quality of ANC care services that we are providing.
“How come a pregnant woman attended ANC, and we cannot detect that this patient has got hypertensive disease in pregnancy, patient eventually comes back to us in labour, develops eclampsia and dies,” he said.
The Deputy Director emphasized that it was not just about the access to healthcare services, but the quality of ANC care services provided was very critical.