There is acute shortage of midwives in the Wa East District in the Upper West Region, resulting in low access to reproductive health services by the youth.
A study carried out by Youth Alive, a non-governmental organization (NGO), in the area, showed that there were only three midwives serving the district.
It indicated that the health centre at Funsi, the district capital, which is a referral point for most of the communities in the area, did not have any midwife.
The study showed that the three midwives were not equipped with the necessary skills in Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) – a safe method used for abortion care.
Mr. Emmanuel Maaweh, a Reproductive Health Consultant, who took part in the survey, made these revelations when he presented the report at a workshop in Wa.
The survey, which was sponsored by STAR Ghana, was designed to contribute to maximizing the health opportunities of young people from 10 to 24 years in communities in the Upper East and Upper West regions.
In the Upper West region, ten communities in the Wa Municipality and Wa East District were selected for the exercise.
The communities are; Kajetia, Kambali, Charia, Busa and Kpongu in the Wa Municipality, and in the Wa East District, are Loggu, Loggu-Sagu, Kparisagu, Baalayiri and Wawa.
The survey showed that access to midwifery services was 100 per cent in the Wa Municipality while the Wa East District recorded only 20 per cent access.
Mr. Maaweh suggested to the Ghana Health Service to review its policy that prevented male nurses from training as midwives.
He explained that it would help to offset the critical manpower challenges that were crippling reproductive health care services in poor communities.
Mr Maaweh said the survey identified the 15-19 (50%) group and 20-24 year (49%) as target groups with the highest incidence of unwanted pregnancies.
It revealed young people’s level of awareness about their sexual responsibilities as very low, which was 42 per cent in the Wa Municipality and 21 per cent in Wa East.
More than 80 per cent of young people in both areas reported that they were not consulted in the planning and delivery of health programmes in their communities.
Mr. Maaweh suggested that the dissemination of adolescent reproductive messages must start early among youth within the 15- 19 and 20-24 year groups where the burden of teenage pregnancy usually gets out of proportion.
He called for information education and communication on health care programmes, to dispel misconceptions about safe abortion care, which was being perceived as life threatening and a replacement for family planning or promoting sexual promiscuity among the youth.