What really comes to your mind upon hearing a woman losing her life while trying to bring a new life to this earth? Or have you wondered how parents feel when they lose children at birth? Scenario A 38-year-old mother of two died recently at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) just after delivery, which made me share uncontrollable tears, I was somehow related to this woman.
According to an autopsy report, the cause of death was eclampsia – defined as the presence of new-onset convulsions and/or unexplained coma in pregnant or postpartum women.
Studies have shown that women with pre-eclampsia/eclampsia were at higher risk of adverse pregnancy outcome compared to those with chronic/gestational hypertension.
It is an obstetric emergency affecting approximately five out of 10,000 pregnancies, with a maternal mortality rate of 1.8 per cent and a fetal mortality rate of up to 30 per cent.
The majority of seizures occur in the post-natal period, constituting about 44 per cent, but they can also occur in the antepartum or intrapartum.
In the case of child mortality, available statistics indicate that in 2018, reported cases stood at 47.9 deaths per 1, 000 live births.
Maternal and child health had over the years been a topical issue for most countries globally to tackle given their complexities in the healthcare system.
Until recently, that is with the improvement in health facilities, child birth was considered a delicate issue, considering the high maternal mortality rate, especially in the poor and developing countries.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), depending on the region or county, only 40 to 70 percent of pregnancies result in a live birth.
The remaining 30 to 60 per cent of pregnancies end in induced or spontaneous abortion or still birth.
Every day, thousands of women and girls make a choice about continuing or ending their pregnancies.
Pregnancy and child birth may have serious complications, including; the death of the mother or infant.
Challenges of women
Some complications and conditions that could also cause deaths in pregnant women may include; heart and blood vessel conditions, cardiovascular disease, stroke, thrombotic pulmonary embolism, hemorrhage, problems with placenta, uterine rupture, rupture ectopic pregnancy and retained products of conception.
In Ghana, the situation is not all that different as a substantial number of women continued to perish in labour, a development attributed to poverty, inadequate access to specialized healthcare and the lack of knowledge on reproductive health.
Currently, the country’s maternal mortality rate stands at 308 deaths per 100, 000 live births, as stated by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in 2017, while child mortality was 47.9 deaths per 1, 000 live births.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Three (3), amongst other things, proposes that by 2030, the world might have reduced the maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100, 000 live births.
Additionally, the Goal also seeks to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under age five, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1, 000 live births and under-five mortality at least as low as 25 per 1, 000 live births.
“I am happy that at long last, Ghana is making headway to complete the 750-bed capacity Maternity and Children’s Unit (MCU) block of the KATH which was started about 45 years ago.
It would be recalled that the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on 15th May, 2020, cut the sod to restart the construction of the block which has been left abandoned all these years.
President Akufo-Addo said the €155 million funding for the project was fully secured from German Deutsche Bank and the UK Export Finance to get the project completed in three years.
Once the project is completed, the 750-bed facility will serve as a referral centre for 12 out of Ghana’s 16 regions.
It will come with an emergency reception for children and pregnant women, 10 Theatres, Intensive Care Units (ICU), an In-vitro Fertilization (IVF) Unit, Breastfeeding Centre, Paediatric Surgery Unit, Pharmacy, dedicated Medical Oxygen Plant, Lecture halls, Cafeteria, Gift Shop/Bank and other specialist facilities.
“The finalisation of this project is dear to my heart. It would help the country’s drive to achieve the targets spelt out in the Sustainable Development Goals on maternal and child health’’ the President indicated.
This maternity building is one of the seven health projects approved by Parliament in 2020 to benefit the people of Ashanti and neighbouring Regions.
Commenting on this same project, Dr. Oheneba-Danso, Chief Executive of KATH, lamented the hardships pregnant women went through in their bid to seek healthcare due to lack of adequate facilities.
“Pregnant women continue to queue to have critical maternal surgeries, while two to six babies are kept together in one baby’s cot due to lack of space at the Hospital,” he stated.
He added that the hospital would boast of one of the most modern Women and Children’s medical facilities in the world when completed.
Everybody, including; husbands of pregnant women should motivate pregnant women to visit health facilities regularly to reverse the high rate of maternal and child mortality.
“I believe most of the time, the ignorance and stubbornness of some of these women cause them to lose their lives and that of the unborn children.
“I stand by the policy that no mother has to lose her life while giving life to another one, and every child should be born healthy and by a healthy mother.
“I am of the view that the Ghana Health Service strengthens its policy on antenatal and seeks legislation to ensure that every pregnant woman attended an antenatal clinic.
This, in my opinion will ensure that all pregnant women obtained quality health care throughout the pregnancy and reduce the possibility of complications during childbirth.
It will also help save the lives of both mother and child and help reduce maternal mortality rates in the country.
By Florence Afriyie Mensah
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