The growing phenomenon of pregnant women seeking health care at prayer camps is adversely affecting healthcare delivery, the Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, has said.
That was because a number of women continued to lose their lives and their babies at the prayer camps during labour, he said.
“Nine per cent of women who die from maternal health complications in the northern zone visit prayer camps, while 20 per cent of women who die from maternal health complications in the middle zone visit prayer camps and 26 per cent of women who die from maternal health complications in the southern zone also visit prayer camps," he stated.
Dr Nsiah-Asare, therefore, entreated pregnant women to frequently seek early medical care at health centres, since complications associated with pregnancy were not caused by spiritual powers but were health complications that could be treated medically to ensure safe labour.
The Director General of the GHS was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 26th annual conference of district directors of Health Services Group in Tamale.
The conference was on the theme: "Reducing maternal and neonatal mortality through health systems strengthening”.
Quality health care
Dr Nsiah-Asare observed that the most effective ways to reduce maternal mortality were to empower girls through comprehensive sex education and improve maternal and adolescent nutrition through diet diversification and micronutrient supplementation.
"As district directors, you have the authority and what it takes to move the country forward in the improvement of health indicators.
Therefore, you should be seen to provide the much-needed leadership, not only at the district level but also the sub-district, which I consider the weakest link in our health system," he said.
Dr Nsiah-Asare implored the district directors to be agents and catalysts for improving on maternal and child health delivery, since more than 50 per cent of maternal and newborn deaths occurred at the district level.
Performance and accountability
Touching on performance and accountability, he said the Ghana Health Service would soon put in place systems for performance management and accountability to enhance productivity.
He said in spite of the numerous challenges facing the service, it was taking stringent steps to strengthen leadership and management at the district level.
In his address, the Deputy Northern Regional Minister, Mr Solomon Boar, called for continued dialogue among various stakeholders in the health sector to generate workable ideas that would help address the challenges facing the sector in the country.
He charged the district directors to serve as a bridge between the health and the non-health sectors, especially at the local government front, to ensure increased collaboration for effective service delivery.