Friday, 22 March 2013

International Women's Day And Efforts to Reduce Maternal Mortality

While global community observes International Women’s Day today, it is important to take another look at how to create a conducive environment for our mothers to have safe deliveries and also ensure the survival of new born babies. There is the need for attitudinal change regarding cultural practices which tend to affect the dignity of women. In looking at maternal health issues, two vital questions can be asked: whose relative should be among the maternal mortality figure of 185 women per 100 thousand live births.? Who would wish that a wife or sister dies due to complications related to pregnancy and child birth? The fact is “Every life counts.” Former First Lady Mrs. Naadu Mills, got on the maternal health campaign trail to draw attention to the fact that all have to take keen interest in saving the lives of our mothers.

The Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) acted as a catalyst for other efforts. On 26th February, this year, another campaign initiative dubbed: “Mamaye” was launched in Accra by the University of Ghana School of Public Health in partnership with the Alliance for Reproductive Health, to step up efforts to reduce maternal mortality. The campaign which is under Evidence for Action, a five-year programme aims to improve maternal and newborn survival and is being funded by the UK Department for International Development, DFID. Even with all these efforts, the disclosure that on the average, seven women die each day in Ghana from pregnancy-related causes and in addition, 63 newborns die is something that should grab the headlines daily. To draw an analogy, over forty people have died on the N1 Highway since the road was inaugurated. Everybody says this is unacceptable.

What about this maternal and newborn mortality figure? Within a week are we not talking of higher figures? Certainly, the rising crescendo of voices calling for intensified action on the maternal health front is more than justified. Advocacy is certainly important in finding solutions to the problems that confront the country.

Appropriate knowledge about what to do and when to do it is very important in helping to save lives. No one will like to see a relative die but some are quick to accept that the problem an expectant mother is confronted with is more spiritual than medical. They will thus head to the spiritual camp instead of the nearest medical facility till it is too late to save the situation. Regularly, medical experts warn of delays and its disastrous consequences where pregnant women are concerned. Every little change should be seen as abnormal and shrewd ones will immediately seek the necessary assistance.

The Ghana Health Service has been stressing the need for supervised delivery. During supervised delivery, emergencies like bleeding, can be catered for in good time. It is welcome news that the most recent maternal health campaign, the 'MAMAYE' initiative is promoting blood donation. The first of the Mamaye blood donation at the Efua Sutherlands Children's, coincides with the international women’s day. As the Caretaker Deputy Minister of Health Rojo Mettle-Nunoo stated at the launching of the Mamaye campaign, “we should have an attitude of zero tolerance for maternal deaths.” This calls for exploiting synergies where everybody is involved in word and deed. Examples abound as to how taxi drivers have shown commitment by transporting expectant mothers to health facilities even at midnight on very bad roads. The goal of the Mamaye Campaign calling for the survival of our mothers and newborns remains relevant. The causes of maternal mortality are known let us intensify the remedial actions now.

BY: KINGSLEY OBENG-KYEREH, A MEDIA PRACTITIONER.

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