The state of maternal and child health facilities in rural areas in the Upper East Region

health

By Emmanuel Akayete, a Journalist

There is no doubt that one of the major factors contributing largely to the high maternal and infant mortality in Ghana and other developing countries is lack of health infrastructure.

This makes it very difficult for pregnant women and neonates to have access to newborn and obstetric care. It must be stressed that access to basic obstetric and newborn care is key to reducing maternal and infant mortality, especially at the community level.

Records have it that when it comes to the phenomenon the Upper East Region is one of the hardest hit. It must be emphasized here that without the required good health facilities for maternal and neonatal healthcare, it will be very difficult for Ghana which is signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to make any significant impact in the area. This makes it urgent for stakeholders such as government, private sector and development partners to collaborate effectively to strengthen primary health care systems in all developing countries, including Ghana. Furthermore, financial access and utilization of maternal, child health care services and community-level action across rural Ghana is very critical to avoid preventable deaths. Financial access and use of maternal and child health services in rural areas of Ghana particularly the five regions of the north is poor and need to be addressed to help tackle the phenomenon. The private sector plays a key role in delivering sexual and reproductive health services.

Research confirms that women aged 15-49 in Asia, America and the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa depend on the private sector to access Sexual and Reproductive Health. It is in the light of this that the Private sector should be encouraged to complement health institutions in the public sector by actively participating in maternal and neonatal health delivery. It is important to state that although Ghana, as a country has over the past 25 years, made considerable progress in lowering the maternal mortality rate, there is still the urgent need to do more to help reduce the problem significantly. According to the Ghana Health Service, 875 maternal deaths were recorded in Ghana in 2018 and 838 in 2019.

This figure further decreased to 776 in 2020 despite the increase in total deliveries while institutional maternal mortality ratio reduced from 117 in 2019 to 106 in 2020, following the COVID-19 pandemic and all its associated impact. It is in the light of this that the role of the private sector in complementing government’s efforts at improving maternal and new born health and helping in achieving Universal Health Coverage and the achievement of the SDGs especially goal 3 cannot be underestimated.

There is therefore the urgent need to prioritize the provision of maternal and newborn health services at Private Health facilities in Ghana especially in rural communities where high numbers of child and maternal mortality cases are frequently recorded. This is why it can be described as timely, the establishment of such a facility at Bongo Soe, a rural community in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region. The facility is called Ayire Clinic. It will serve as a centre of excellence for the provision of quality child and maternal care in the area and other communities. Pediatricians, and gynecologists are said to be frequenting the facility to assist women who need help at very affordable prices. This is definitely welcome news as it will go a long way at helping women and children who are most of the time vulnerable. While helping Bongo Soe to address the challenges they have with regard to child and maternal health issues, attention must also be drawn to other regions which equally need such facilities and specialists. That way, the country will be drawing nearer to attaining its zero tolerance to child and maternal mortality while making significant gains in the achievement of the SDGs.

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