The eight goals were set to encourage all countries, rich or poor, to focus on human development problems.
It also captured the aspirations of the international community and spoke of a world united by common values and striving with renewed determination to achieve peace and decent standards of living for every man, woman and child.
Ghana, a signatory to the UN Millennium Declaration, was one of the promising countries highly touted to meet the MDGs. In September 2000, Ghana committed herself to tracking these eight time-bound MDGs and associated indicators. Progress towards the attainment of the MDGs were annually reported since 2002 in many national documents including the Annual Progress Report on the implementation of the Medium-term Development Frameworks, namely the GPRS I and GPRS II. In addition, special MDG reports were prepared on biennial basis which examine trends in the attainment of goals. A final report was presented in 2015 titled “Ghana Millennium Development Goals 2015 Report” that “examines progress made since 2000 towards all the goals and their targets, and draws some lessons”.
Ghana failed to attained MDG 4 (Reduce Child Mortality) and MDG5 (Improve Maternal Mortality). The scope of this publication is MDGs 4 & 5 with a broad objective of capturing some prevailing circumstances that may ultimately prevent Ghana from attaining the newly signed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and recommend some solutions.
In the coming days, this publication will detail some prevailing circumstances if not addressed will see Ghana falling back on the SDGs. Today, we delve into the area of the burden of maternal and child deaths in Ghana.
Ever Increasing Maternal and Neonatal Deaths
Health facilities across the nation continue to record high maternal and neonatal deaths. In less than 180 days in the year 2012, Seven (7) women lost their lives giving birth at Keta Municipal Hospital in the Volta Region. From a microscopic lens, this implies in every 21 days (30,240 minutes) a woman dies from giving birth at Hospital. ‘Too Many Maternal Deaths’ as the Keta Municipal Health Directorate 2011 Annual Report (pg 71) sub-titled Challenges from 2010 vividly captured it.
Cape Coast Municipal Hospital recorded over 211 cases of maternal and child death in 2011 and 2012. The year 2011, witnessed 1,536 deliveries out of which 94 maternal and neonatal deaths were recorded. The number of deliveries increased by 324 in the year 2012 while the number of maternal and neonatal deaths jumped up to 117.
The Korle–Bu Teaching Hospital has every right to pride itself as the premier teaching hospital in Ghana, a centre of excellence and above all the third largest in Africa. At Korle Teaching Bu Hospital, the first half of 2013 recorded 45 maternal deaths; 5,487 live births with maternal mortality ratio of 820 per 100,000 live births. In 2012, there were 85 maternal deaths, 10,103 live births and a maternal mortality ratio of 841, as compared to 119 maternal deaths in 2011, 10,455 live births and a maternal mortality ratio of 1,138. Eighty (80) maternal deaths were recorded in 2010, as against 11,287 live births, giving a maternal mortality ratio of 709. In 2009 there were 86 maternal deaths, 10,502 live births and a maternal mortality ratio of 819, while 2008 sowed 77 maternal deaths, 10,195 live births and maternal mortality ratio of 755.
In October 2013, records from Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), a leading tertiary referral healthcare institution in the middle belt of the country revealed 1,130 maternal deaths between 2005 and June 2013. This figure represents an average of 132 pregnant women dying every year in the facility. The hospital blamed the deaths on complicated cases referred from peripheral hospitals. With such high preventable maternal deaths, Ghana stands the risk of falling far off the Sustainable Development Goals.
A total of 1,012 institutional maternal deaths were recorded across the country in 2013 compared to the 889 deaths recorded in the preceding year. This is according to the District Health Information Management System (DHIMS2) data extracted on 30 March 2014 and made available by the Ghana Health Service.
The Greater Accra Region, which boasts some of the top class health facilities in the country, recorded the highest number of mortalities with 201 in 2013, followed closely by the Ashanti Region, with a recorded 200 deaths. Eastern Region recorded 124 deaths, Northern Region – 99, Brong Ahafo Region – 95, Western Region – 85, Volta Region -73, Central Region – 68, Upper West Region – 34 and Upper East – 33.
Official document cited from a 2010 United States of America’s Central Intelligence Agency reveals Ghana; a middle income country remains a difficult place for women to give birth. Ghana, compared to some war torn, conflict ridden, economically and educationally challenged countries, continue to record over 350 maternal deaths per 100, 000 live births. (Ghana 350, Iraq 63, Syria 70, Uganda 310, Tunisia 56, Rwanda 340, Pakistan 260, Libya 58, Lebanon 25, Iran 21, Egypt 66, Algeria 97) .
In the year 2012, CIA World Fact Book Report (2012) ranked Ghana 41st on world maternal mortality rate index. Recent Ghana Health Service (GHS) reports indicate 1,022 maternal deaths in 2011; and 894 deaths in 2010.
The 2010 MDG report maintains that the trend falls short of the 5.5 per cent annual decline required to achieve the MDG target of 185 per 100,000 by 2015.
According to the Ghana Millennium Development Goals 2015 Report “Maternal mortality in Ghana remains high in spite of several efforts and interventions by the government and development partners.” There are some efforts at all levels, however, such efforts are perhaps coming a bit late as Ghana missed the MDGs 4 and 5. With the maternal mortality rate currently at 380 per 100,000 live births while the expected target is to come down to 185 deaths per 100,000 live births, we have definitely not make it for 2015.
We should not throw in the towel yet. Missing the mark gives us another opportunity to rethink once more and prioritise and throw much more weight behind the organisations that are focused on righting the wrongs by supporting them with the required resources. The health authorities should not just pay lip-service to the issues. We need action because missing the targets we set for ourselves shows, for sure, our level of commitment to deal with the issue, even at the highest levels.
Source: Victus Kwabla Sabutey
Researcher & Productions Coordinator
Maternal Health Channel