A number of men in Bagurugu, a farming community in the Karaga District in the Northern Region, have thrown their weight behind a maternal health campaign being implemented in the community.
They said the project had enlightened them on the importance of letting their women patronise antenatal and postnatal care services, as well as ensuring that pregnant women delivered under the supervision of qualified midwives in approved health centres.
The ‘Live Births: Smiling Mothers Project’ seeks to increase significantly facility-based deliveries and the number of pregnant women accessing antenatal and postnatal care services in 24 project communities located in the Sagnarigu, Gusheigu, Karaga and Tolon districts.
It is an initiative of a Tamale-based gender and reproductive health advocacy organisation, the Northern Sector Action on Awareness Centre (NORSAAC), with funding support from STAR Ghana.
An opinion leader in Bagurugu, Mr Sulemana Imoro, said he and four other opinion leaders in the community were selected and trained by the project to act as male maternal champions (MMC).
“We engage other men in our community on issues affecting pregnant women and we explain to them the importance of letting their wives go to the clinic for check-up regularly,” he said.
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“We also lead by example by accompanying our women to the clinic so as to encourage other men to do so,” he further noted.
Another male maternal champion of maternal health in the Bagurugu community, Mr Abdulai Alhassan, who has five children with two wives, said he always ensured that his wives visited the hospital during pregnancy and after delivery because “I care about their health”.
He said some men in the community were hesitant about allowing their wives visit the hospital before or after delivery because they feared that the child or mother might be given injections that could harm them.
“They are ignorant about the benefits of the injections and medicines given to the babies and so we have been educating them on this,” he said, adding that it was through the injections given to the babies that diseases like measles and polio had been eradicated in their communities.
The two men, however, appealed to the Ghana Health Service to post a midwife to the Community Health and Planning Services (CHPS) compound in the community so as to stop the practice where pregnant women were delivered of their babies by traditional birth assistants.
“We pooled our resources and built the CHPS compound and they gave us some nurses. Our wives go there for examination, but cannot deliver there and this is still a problem,” Mr Imoro said.
He said the nearest health facilities where their women could access delivery services were in Savelugu and Karaga, which are more than 15km away from Bagurugu.
“One day, we tried carrying a woman in labour to Savelugu, after she failed to deliver at home, but unfortunately she died with the baby before we could get to the hospital,” he lamented.
Reducing maternal and child mortality remains one of the key indicators of human development and this is captured in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 that Ghana intends to achieve by 2015.
By Nurudeen Salifu/Ghana