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General News
More maternity wards for polyclinics 5/29/2009

Dr. George Sipa Yankey, Minister of Health, has said government would construct maternity sections at four polyclinics in the Accra metropolis to reduce the pressure on the maternity departments of Korle-Bu and Ridge Hospitals.

He identified Achimota Hospital, Mamprobi, Mamobi, and Usher Fort Polyclinics as earmarked for the project, which was expected to start this year.

Two midwifery schools would also be constructed at Tamale and Tarkwa to train more midwives while a hospital would be constructed at Weija in Accra.

The Health Minister said this at an open forum in Accra organised by the Government Registered Midwives Group (GRMG) in collaboration with Ghana Registered Midwives Association to mark International Day of the Midwife under the theme: "The World Needs Midwives Now More Than Ever."

He said the major burden of health institutions today was the need to control complex health problems among women and children, which demanded the expertise of front line health workers.

He said the high rate of maternal mortality in Ghana raised many fundamental questions, which policy makers must address.

Dr Yankey said nearly 600,000 women between the age of 15 and 49 years died worldwide as a result of complications of pregnancy and childbirth while another 50 million suffered from long term disabilities adding that most of these women were in the developing world.

He said in sub-Saharan Africa there were about 500 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births and this figure may rise as high as 1,000 in some countries.

Dr Yankey said the recent maternal mortality survey conducted in Ghana suggested that maternal death was still a problem in Ghana as results showed that 450 mothers perished for every 100,000 live births.

He blamed the situation on low social status of women and poor nutritional status of most pregnant women.

The Minister said the likelihood that a woman would die during pregnancy depended on the number of times a woman became pregnant and that 40 per cent of the pregnant women would undergo complications during pregnancy.

He said lack of access to essential obstetric services, unsafe abortions and the low participation in family planning were some of the problems pregnant women faced and pledged government’s support to tackle them.

"Government is convinced that the failure to address the reproductive health needs of Ghanaians is a matter of human rights and social justice where people have the right to make informed decisions about their reproductive lives and the right to the services of qualified midwives."

Dr Yankey said an investment in one’s reproductive health was an investment in future health and development.

"Every death is a tragedy, the death of a young woman who may have other children depending on her is a multiple tragedy and the inexcusable fact is that so many of these deaths are preventable," he said.

The Minister said pregnant women must have access to skilled care especially when complications arose and added that for pregnant women every service should be regarded as an emergency.

Dr Yankey said the free antenatal and delivery services at the public health facilities must be extended to the midwives in the private sector, adding that it was only by so doing that "we will have the required effect of the health status of the woman in Ghana".

He said the government would address the salary problems and pensions of all health workers especially the midwives.

Prof. Enyonam Yao Kwaawukume, Head of Obstetric and Gynaecology Department of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, said the best way to solve maternal deaths was to provide oxygen cylinders, drips and hypertension drugs to all midwifery departments to control excessive bleeding or any other complications of pregnant women.

Ms Rizwana Hawa Amoako-Agyei, the National Chairperson, GRMG appealed to the minister to consider their proposal which included top-up courses for diploma in midwifery and the establishment of more midwifery schools and community maternity clinics to alleviate the problem of patients travelling long distances to hospitals.

GNA/Anna Marian Ardayfio

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