Health Minister Alban S.K. Bagbin on Thursday said despite the gains in infant and child survival, the country’s maternal and child health left much to be desired.
He noted that the major obstacles to maternal health and reduction of maternal mortality were shortage of skilled personnel at point of delivery, avoidable human factors such as attitude to work, punctuality, a keen sense of purpose and team work.
Speaking at the inauguration of a rehabilitated maternity theatre of Ridge Hospital in Accra, the Health Minister said lack of access to essential obstetric services, unsafe abortions and low uptake of family planning were problems well documented but what was left to be done was to ensure that health policies and investment into the sector addressed these challenges.
The First Lady, Dr Ernestina Naadu Mills, inaugurated the new well-equipped operating theatre dedicated to Obstetric and Gynecological emergencies would ease congestion at the Ridge Hospital.
Under partnership agreement, approximately $350,000 of USAID funds were used to procure the necessary equipment for emergency obstetric care in the refurbished operating room.
Ghana International Women Club contributed over 100,000 dollars in funds for the rehabilitation and many hours of volunteer work in fund raising and project oversight.
Kybele, Incorporated contributed a substantial share of time, US medical professionals on volunteer basis while Ghana Health Service provided engineering and biomedical expertise for all phases of the project including installation of the equipment provided by USAID, as well as the time and effort of Ridge Regional Hospital Staff to accomplish the project.
Mr Bagbin said government was committed to improve the health sector as new hospitals and polyclinics were inaugurated recently at Zabzugu, Chereponi and Karaga.
In addition, the rehabilitation and upgrading of Tamale Hospital was progressing steadily with the construction of a new tower of wards almost completed and 40 staff accommodation units on-going and has further committed to this year’s budget GHc11 million as its contribution in the 210 million dollar sourced to complete the ultra-modern maternity and child block at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi.
He said all these were geared towards reducing maternal and newborn deaths and thanked USAID and its partners have supported the government’s efforts, including a programme to build the capacity of Ridge Regional Hospital staff to respond to emergencies.
Dr Obeng Apori, Medical Director of Ridge Hospital, commended stakeholders including the Ghana International Women Club, USAID, contractors Happy Land Designs, staff whose tireless effort brought into fruition the operating theatre.
He said the hospital was committed to reducing maternal and infant mortality adding, “We at Ridge Hospital share the vision and trust that coupled with core values of the Ghana Health Service “to make the facility a mother-friendly one”.
Dr Apori said the existence of free maternal care was no excuse for unplanned pregnancies and that the country needed a manageable number of pregnancies to guarantee quality maternal health care and sustainability of the free maternal programme.
Ms Cheryl Anderson, USAID Ghana Mission Director, reiterated that too many women and babies died in labour and delivery in Ghana despite government’s efforts and noted that the fact that so many lives were saved at Ridge given the constraints under which health workers operated, was a testimony of exceptional skills and hard work.
USAID also collaborated with Ridge Regional Hospital’ nurse anesthetic training programme and conducted clinical training in basic emergency obstetrics and neonatal care for general practice physicians based in outlying district hospitals.
“This event demonstrates how readily the American people join hands with the Government and other partners to reduce maternal and child deaths,” she added.