The fight against maternal and infant mortality has remained intractable across the world especially in developing countries.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 830 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications around the world every day.
Spiking global statistics
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) also suggests that Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, between them account for 88 per cent of maternal deaths worldwide.
Despite the numerous interventions targeting the reduction in the figures, the statistics get exacerbated, more frightening and unacceptable, by the year.
Sadly, the situation in Ghana is not any different as 310 women die in every 100,000 live births. Although some progress has been made over the years following some interventions by the Ministry of Health (MoH), Ghana Health Service and development partners, the situation leaves much to be desired.
UNFPA intervention on the local scene
It is against this background that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA-Ghana) is doing everything to complement efforts of government and other stakeholders to address the unfortunate situation.
UNFPA-Ghana as part of drive towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by year 2030 has been doing a lot of work in the area of sexual and reproductive health.
It has consequently adopted three transformative goals, which seek to end unmet needs of family planning, gender-based violence and preventable maternal deaths.
This, it intends to achieve through a concerted set of strategies – advocacy, policy dialogue and capacity building.
The Smart Phone Safe Delivery App (SDA) Strategy
One of the strategies that it is currently pursuing in the onslaught against maternal and infant mortality is the introduction of the Safe Delivery App (SDA) to birth attendants across the country.
The SDA was formally launched in December 2017 by UNFPA Ghana and the Danish Embassy with support from the MoH and the GHS.
Developed by the Maternity Foundation, University of Copenhagen and University of Southern Denmark, the App is a smartphone application that provides skilled birth attendants with direct and instant access to evidenced-based and up-to-date clinical guidelines on basic emergency obstetric and neonatal care.
It can be used as a job-aid, refresher training tool and integrated part of pre-service programs.
Once downloaded, users do not require access to internet to operate and it comes with animated clinical instruction videos.
In addition, the SDA features push messages with quiz questions, spurring the health worker to use the App to revise their knowledge as well as easy access to drugs and practical procedure lists.
The objective of carrying out a full-scale launch of the App was to position the SDA for national adoption as a job-aid and training tool for both pre and in-service health worker training.
Capacity building network on SDA operational skills
Since its launch, UNFPA Ghana in collaboration with Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), Maternity Foundation and Northern Sector Action Awareness Centre (NORSAAC), has successfully trained quite a number of midwives on the use of the App in Greater Accra, Eastern and Ashanti and Northern Regions.
Beneficiaries of the training are carefully selected based on key factors such as maternal and newborn caseload and location of facilities, with emphasis on those in hard-to-reach areas.
Priority is also given to those burdened with challenges such as poor road network and long distance to the next referral facilities.
The latest training workshop was recently held for 75 midwives at Akyawkrom near Ejisu in Ashanti.
It was put together by UNFPA Ghana and CHAG with participants drawn from various health facilities in the region. They were taught how to download and use the app on their own to improve on their skills.
Ms. Charlotte Kanstrup, a Senior Technical Advisor on Reproductive Health and Gender Equality of UNFPA Ghana, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on the sidelines of the training that they would identify some midwives and extensively train them on the use of the App within the CHAG network.
They would then become a source of skill and knowledge to disseminate to over 22,000 birth attendants in the country.
The UNFPA, Maternity Foundation and CHAG, according to her, would work closely with the GHS and other relevant stakeholders to ensure continued ownership of the project throughout its implementation period and beyond.
The expectation is that, with time, the interventions would spread out to the entire CHAG community, GHS and the four teaching hospitals.
With its strong presence, UNFPA seeks to complement implementation by local and international NGOs with a plan designed to guide ongoing collaborations so that all partners would provide targeted technical support.
Ms. Kanstrup said deliberate steps would be taken to reach out to more midwives through three main strategies; promotion for self-use through broader dissemination, facilitated use as well as documentation and learning.
The ultimate goal is to use the technology to save lives by empowering skilled birth attendants to provide safer care for mothers and newborns.
Proactive interventions to ensure safer care for mothers and newborns to reduce the menace of maternal and new born deaths, is a must if posterity is to continue.
All and sundry must therefore do everything to complement UNFPA’s efforts to save mothers and babies. Victory is in sight for the attainment of SDGs by 2030, if such interventions are complemented and sustained.
By Yussif Ibrahim
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