GHS launches ‘Zero Tolerance for Maternal Deaths’

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has launched a year-long campaign to reduce considerably the spate of maternal mortalities across the country in line with achieving Goal 3 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Currently, Ghana’s maternal mortality ratio (MMR) stands at 308 per 100,000 live births which is way below the SDG target of less than 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.

The “Zero Tolerance for Maternal Deaths” campaign thus primarily targets decreasing unintended pregnancies among women and girls through the provision of safe abortion and family planning (FP) services to reduce maternal deaths in the country.

Launching the campaign on the theme; “Stop Preventable Maternal Deaths and Disabilities,” the Director-General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye said nearly half of pregnancies recorded in Ghana annually were unintended often leading women and girls to resort to unsafe practices to terminate the fetuses, resulting in life-long complications and deaths sometimes.

He noted that although abortion-related maternal deaths were highly preventable, issues of stigma among other social and economic factors discouraged women from seeking safe techniques for terminating unintended pregnancies.

“This is why the GHS is seeking everyone’s support to remove all the barriers and unfair treatments that push women and girls with unintended pregnancies to dangerous paths that lead to their untimely deaths.

The campaign is further seeking support for these unfortunate people to avail themselves to the best and safest techniques for terminating unwanted pregnancies to save their lives and for timely family planning to prevent further unintended pregnancies,” the DG stated.

In the view of DrKuma-Aboagye, “no woman or girl in Ghana should ever have to use unsafe abortion due to social stigma or financial limitations.”

He said all health facilities across all levels had been authorised to provide safe abortion care to reduce the country’s MMR and promote the family system and contribute to socio-economic growth.

“Let us remember that abortion care is healthcare and that is all that some women and girls need to survive,” he urged.

The Director of Family Health Division of the GHS, Dr Kofi Issah, said data from the Emergency Obstetrics and Neo-natal Care (EMONC) assessment indicated that 45,659 women and girls had abortions in 2020.

He said of the figure, 5,596 suffered severe complications and 28 representing 3.2 percent died adding that “of all unsafe abortions, one third were performed under the least safe conditions, by untrained persons using dangerous and invasive methods.”

DrIssah said interventions like the inclusion of clinical family planning methods into the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was a major game-changer in reducing preventable maternal deaths in the country.

To this end, the Director mentioned strategies the campaign would deploy including multi-stakeholder engagements, intensified public education on implementation of FP services on the NHIS, the legal provisions on abortion, distribution of social and behavioural change communication materials and orientation of health workers, to reduce abortion-related deaths.

The queen mother of Adabraka, NaaKorkorAedzieoyi 1, called for stricter punishment for perpetrators of sexual abuse, urging health authorities to intensify public education on safe abortion to save the lives of more women and girls in the country.

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH & CONNIELOVE MAWUTORNYO DZODZEGBE

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