Invest in Women and Girls’ Health to Eliminate Maternal & Infant Death in Ghana

The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban KiMoon recently convened a meeting of health leaders and experts from over 30 countries to set a global plan of action to ensure that no woman, newborn, child or adolescent dies from preventable causes by 2030. The meeting was to identify ways or interventions to accelerate progress towards improving the lives of women, children and adolescents.

The Global Strategy for Women’s, Children and Adolescents’ Health, the UN campaign to end preventable deaths of women, newborns, children and adolescents by 2030 may not be achieved if there are no corresponding global actions. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set the stage for global innovative and inclusive platforms for collective and focused action towards good health and well-being for both women, children and men. 

Under 5, infant and maternal mortality rates in Ghana have seen a tremendous reduction. This was as a result of both the government and non-governmental organizations’ interventions. Savana Signatures as an ICT for Development (ICT4D) designed and implemented a maternal and child health project known as Technology for Maternal Health (T4MH). 

This project did not only contribute immensely to the reduction of maternal and under 5 infant mortality in the Northern region of Ghana but has also empowered health professionals with the skills and knowledge to use mobile professionals in maternal and child health information disseminate. By December 2014 which marked the end of the project implementation, maternal deaths in the Northern region went down from 115 in 2007 to as low as 19 deaths by December 2014. 

The project was implemented in four districts initially but later expanded to cover 10 districts with high incidence of maternal deaths. Working closely with the regional health directorate and district health centers, Savana Signatures’ T4MH did not only contribute to maternal deaths, but also contributed to increase in Antenatal Care (ANC) attendance by pregnant mothers, skilled delivery and access to timely maternal and child health information.

Also, intensive sensitization and regular monitoring contributed to less delivery at homes. It is however surprising to note that the maternal deaths in the region has increased from 19 in 2014 to 95 deaths in 2015. The Northern Regional Director of Ghana Health Service Dr. Jacob Yakubu Mahama who disclosed this recently to the US Ambassador to Ghana said it was as a result of insufficient and ageing midwives.   To say the least, maternal and infant mortality are dark and shameful blots in human history. 

Achievement of SDGs 3 and 5

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set yet another new era in the fight against the canker that ruins human development. Under the MDGs, progress was made particularly in reducing maternal and infant deaths captured under the goals 4 and 5. The new story of increase maternal death in the northern region is bad enough to wake up all stakeholders to step up efforts to curb the situation.  Maternal and infant mortality could become a threat to Ghana’s achievement of SDGs 3 and 5. Women should not die giving birth to children, and children should not die trying to live.

Dealing with maternal and infant deaths go beyond medical practice.  Investing in women and girls, ending extreme poverty and taking bold political decisions on women and children’s health should be a focal point in attempts to eliminate