The Eastern Region has made progress in key health priority areas, including a decrease in institutional maternal deaths and neonatal deaths as well as increases in HIV Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) in 2021.
The maternal mortality ratio declined from 146.1 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020 to 112.1 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2021, while institutional neonatal mortality fell from 8.2 deaths in 2020 to 6.7 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2021.
PMTC of HIV testing increased from 67 per cent in 2020 to 94.2 per cent in 2021, Family Planning acceptor rate increased from 24.8 per cent in 2020 to 29.4 per cent in 2021, pregnant mothers attending at least four Ante-Natal Care (ANC) visits increased from 67.2 per cent in 2020 to 76.5 per cent in 2021 and births attended by trained personnel increased from 50.9 per cent to 60.9 per cent in the year under review.
On disease prevention and control, vaccination coverage in children (Penta 3) increased from 90.6 per cent in 2020 to 109.7 per cent in 2021.
However, stillbirth rates increased slightly from 13.3 per cent to 13.4 per cent while tuberculosis notification rates decreased slightly from 50.3 per cent to 49 per cent due to partial stocking of reagents and equipment breakdown in some health facilities.
Dr Winfred Ofosu, the Eastern Regional Director of Ghana Health Service (GHS), announced this in Koforidua at the 2021 Annual Health Performance Review Meeting, which focused on “Building a Resilient Health System for Maternal and Newborn Care-The Role of Stakeholders.”
The Eastern Region’s overall score from the GHS adopted performance assessment model’s holistic assessment was 3.9 out of five for the year 2021, an improvement over the 2020 performance of 3.6.
In the last four years, the GHS had adopted a holistic assessment model in which regions assess each other’s performance using a peer review mechanism to ensure fair and independent assessment based on 83 selected indicators and four milestones to assess performance.
The Director described the achievements as remarkable but added that the consistent loss of a large number of women due to pregnancy and its complications was a major concern in the health sector, requiring all stakeholders to work together to build a resilient system to ensure a systematic reduction in maternal and neonatal deaths.
To maintain and improve the quality and safety of healthcare delivery in the region, Dr Ofosu said, “We recognized that availability of supplies and medicines at the point of care was paramount and thus created a synergy between medical stores and points of care.
“To date, we have paid all supplies of medicine commodities up to the end of September 2021, and we are preparing to pay up to January 2022 this month, far ahead of NHIS re-imbursement,” he said, adding that the accomplishment was the result of cooperation and prudent management of the Regional Medical Stores”.
Despite progress in key health priority areas, he stated that the Region was still dealing with maldistribution or inequitable distribution of staff due to staff unwillingness to accept postings in some underserved areas.
As a result, he urged key stakeholders such as Municipal and District Assemblies to prioritize the provision of basic infrastructure such as housing to attract personnel to provide essential services for improved healthcare delivery.
Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director-General GHS, stated that despite the ravages of COVID-19, the service did not abandon essential services and care in other health areas and praised the high spirit of commitment of health staff across the country.
“Even though COVID-19 devastated us,” he said, “it has strengthened our systems and guidelines to be more resolute and innovative through the establishment of emergency and key health interventions to improve health care delivery.”
As some of the innovations reinforced by COVID-19 lessons, he mentioned, the establishment of three emergency centres in Accra, Tamale and Takoradi, improved surveillance in all regions and on all diseases aside from covid-19 and the upgrading of cold chain capacities across the country.
Mr Seth Acheampong, the Eastern Regional Minister, praised the health directorate for its outstanding performance in the face of the COVID-19, which tested both the health systems and the health workers to their limits.
He did, however, note that the deaths of 112 mothers remained a major challenge that must be addressed with urgency, adding that “every single maternal death has a devastating effect on a family and a community, and thus every effort must be made to end this tragedy.”
The two-day review meeting would cover topics such as accessing the high maternal mortality rate, improving emergency care, the covid-19 situation in the region, and presentations and deliberations on the district’s assessment report, among other things.