Accra May 5, GNA – Mr Alban Bagbin, Minister of Health, on Friday reiterated government commitment to implementing initiatives to reduce maternal mortality in the country.
Mr Bagbin said the Ministry had formulated various reproductive health policies including the adolescent reproductive health policy, safe motherhood protocols, reproductive health strategy plan and child health policy and strategy to improve maternal and child health.
He said this at a round table discussion on ‘Atlas Birth’ document in Accra organised by the Ghana Registered Midwives Association in collaboration with the International of Midwives, the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR).
Mr Bagbin said the Atlas Birth is a comprehensive and clear guide to the national picture of maternal health presented with maps, graphics and stories from across the country; it provides and describes key facts on maternity health profile and indicators in the simplest form to both policy makers and the public.
He said key socio-economic indicators include: contraceptive use, maternity care and access to services which will enable Ghanaians understand the maternity health situation in each region or district in the country.
The Minister said statistics from the United Nations indicated that each year more than 350,000 women in the developing world aged 15-49, die of pregnancy and child-birth related complications adding that about 2.6 million children are stillborn and 8.1 million die before their fifth birthday.
He noted that about 80 per cent of maternal deaths occur as a result of complications including severe bleeding, infections, hypertensive disorders and unsafe abortion.
Mr Bagbin said these complications can be prevented through well functioning health system, infrastructure, investment in family planning and human and financial resources that meet specific health challenges of underserved areas.
He said Doctor to population ratio in the country is estimated at 1:11,649 in 2009 adding that 43 per cent of doctors are in Greater Accra Region compared to 4 per cent for all the three northern regions which contributed to disparities in maternal health outcomes in rural areas compared to urban areas.
Mrs Vicky Okine, Executive Director of ARHR, said the Atlas Birth was launched on May 2, 2012 to mark the celebration of International Day of the Midwifery.
Mrs Okine said it is their hope that the Atlas Birth document would help identify gaps and strengthen advocacy for more allocation of resources to underserved communities and neglected of the fight against maternal mortality.
She said the document would be a guiding tool for research and a reference point of action for policy makers in improving maternal health and advocated the need for all to invest in women and children’s health in the country.
Mrs Okine appealed to politicians and policy makers to turn their promises made during the electioneering period into reality adding that strong national commitment is a prerequisite in achieving the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.
Mr Fiifi Amoako Johnson, Lecturer at University of Southampton, noted that 50 women die needlessly every week in the country in pregnancy and childbirth while more than 400 babies also die weekly.
Mr Johnson said Ghana still struggles to meet the Africa-wide ‘Abuja target of 15 per cent of public sector expenditure on health care adding that the specific allocation of budget for maternal health is essential if deaths of mothers and babies are to be avoided.
He noted that Ghana has signed up to the Commission for Information and Accountability for Women and Children’s Health established by Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, which promises better tracking of resources including reporting of total health expenditure by financing source, per capita and total reproductive health.