The Northern Regional Director of ,, Naa Dr. Jacob Mahama, has charged the central Government to adopt a national strategy to fight high maternal mortalities in the region and other parts of the country.
He observed that the lives of more pregnant women (if not all) could be saved if a serious national campaign or strategy was fashioned out, with special budgetary allocation and adequate personnel to fight maternal deaths.
Madam Joana Quarcoo, Kumbungu District Director of Health, disclosed at the launch of the Promoting Maternal, Newborn, Infant and Child Sustainable Health Efforts (PROMISE) project in Tamale, in June this year, that a total of 130 women died during child birth at health facilities in the Northern Region in 2016 alone, as against 96 cases recorded in 2015.
Sadly, 325 children, who were from seven days to 30 days old, and 34 others, who were from 30 days to 11 months old, also died in 2016.
Speaking at a meeting with the members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health during their two-day working visit to the Northern Region, Naa Dr. Mahama did not repeat the alarming statistics, as revealed by his subordinate in June, this year, but expressed worry about the large size of the region, which he said, was not proportional to its health problems.
He revealed that 47% of deliveries in the region are conducted in the communities by traditional birth attendants and other untrained individuals, which contribute significantly to the loss of lives of women in labour.
Most of the women in labour are not sent to the health facilities for skilled delivery, but are only brought from the communities to the facilities when they had almost lost their lives through excessive bleeding and other complications.
The Northern Regional Health Director also attributed the constant increase in maternal deaths in the region to delays in the referral of pregnant women to other health facilities, inadequate health personnel, weak emergency transport system (ambulance), inadequate health facilities, and poor road networks among others.
Eight out of the 26 districts in the Northern Region are without hospitals, and people have to travel long distances to access healthcare. Only 415 out of the 705 Community Health-Based Planning Services (CHPS) compounds are functional.
Naa Dr. Mahama bemoaned the situation where resources meant for health service delivery from central government were shared equally among small and large regions, without any consideration to the size, population or peculiar problems needed to be addressed.
He said that doctors and other health specialists from the southern parts of Ghana had consistently refused postings to the Northern regions without any sanctions.
He noted that the few doctors who accept postings to the region, especially the rural communities where their services were needed most, refused to stay in those communities.
They mostly rent apartments in the regional or district capitals, and commute to and from their posts every day, due to the deprived conditions they face.
Most of the districts and communities are cut off completely during rain seasons, which also compels most personnel to abandon their duties. He, therefore, called for improved conditions of service, accommodation, means of transport, and other forms motivation for the health personnel in the region to encourage others to accept postings to the area.
The Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Dr. Kwabena Twum-Nuamah, also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Berekum East Constituency, said the visit was part of their oversight functions to visit the various health facilities to ensure the health budget was being properly utilised. It is also to find out some of the grave challenges facing the various facilities for immediate redress.
The committee first paid a courtesy call on the Northern Regional Minister, Salifu Saeed, and then proceeded to the Tamale Teaching Hospital, Tamale Central Hospital, Savelugu-Nanton Municipal Hospital and the Walewale District Hospital, where they met with the senior staff and management members to receive their concerns.
The 12-member committee included the Vice Chairman, Dr. Nana Ayew Afriyie, Ranking Member, Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful and Alhassan Umar, MP for Zabzugu among others.
From Edmond Gyebi, Tamale/