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Ahafo Region declares zero tolerance for maternal deaths

BY: Biiya Mukusah Ali
  Dr Kwabena Boakye-Boateng, Ahafo Regional Director of Health Services, addressing the review  meeting
Dr Kwabena Boakye-Boateng, Ahafo Regional Director of Health Services, addressing the review meeting

The Ahafo Region recorded 10 maternal deaths in 2021, the Regional Director of Health Service, Dr Kwabena Boakye-Boateng, has revealed.

He described the number as unacceptable because the death of a single mother was too heavy for a family to bear.

Speaking at the 2021 annual performance review meeting of the Ahafo Regional Health Directorate at Goaso, the regional capital, Dr Boakye-Boateng said to curb the development, the region had declared "Zero Tolerance for Maternal Deaths".

According to the regional director, the Institutional Maternal Mortality Ratio in the region currently stood at 84 per 100,000 live births, which was within the national target of 125 per 100,000 live births.

He said the Institutional Neonatal Mortality Rate, however, improved from 7.7 per 1,000 live births to 6.0 per 1,000 live births, which was within the regional target of eight per 1,000 live births.

Dr Boakye-Boateng said areas of weaknesses during the review would be given the required attention to reverse the trend.

COVID-19

On COVID-19, Dr Boakye-Boateng said a state of the art PCR laboratory for COVID-19 testing similar to the KCCR laboratory had been established at the Kenyasi Government Hospital, following a collaboration between Newmont Ghana, Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine (KCCR) and the service.

He said the facility was inaugurated in December 2021 and would be fully operationalised this year.

Dr Boakye-Boateng said the regional laboratory experts were working with the Regional Public Health and Clinical Care Departments to explore the possibility of conducting HIV Viral Load Testing in the PCR Laboratory.

He said the Ministry of Health and the GHS had made available COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women irrespective of gestational age.

The regional director said the service realised that COVID-19 disease in pregnancy was more severe, explaining that pregnant women were more likely to die, hospitalised, admitted into the intensive care unit (ICU) and require oxygen and ventilation.

Attracting health staff

A member of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) Council, William Frimpong-Bonsu, said it had resolved to push for the full implementation of the Deprived Area Incentives Scheme (DAIS) to attract and retain health professionals in underserved areas.

He stated that the provision of suitable accommodation, prioritisation of staff welfare and motivation, among others, were juicy incentives in the offing to attract health personnel to remote areas.

Sweet and bitter

It was a sweet and bitter experience for the directorate at the meeting during the review as some areas saw good performance, while others experienced poor performance per the health sector performance indicators.

The period under review saw the regional directorate recording 10 maternal deaths while the region recorded tuberculosis notification achievement rate of 41 per cent as compared to the annual national target of 60 per cent.

The directorate also achieved a family planning acceptor rate of 55.3 per cent as against its target of 40 per cent, while the proportion of mothers who made at least four antenatal visits increased from 117.7 per cent in 2021 against 91.3 per cent in 2020.

The review meeting was on the theme: "Essential services continuity in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic: Leveraging on public health and clinical care synergy".

Embrace the incentives

Mr Frimpong-Bonsu encouraged health staff to embrace the new deprived area incentives and accept to serve in any part of the country.

He said their know-how and expertise to the underserved areas would help promote quality health services and bridge the gap in health professional distribution across the country.