The Western Regional Health Directorate (WRHD) has expressed concern about the increasing maternal mortality ratio in the region and described it as unacceptable.
In 2010, the region recorded 78 deaths and after a rigorous campaign in 2011, it came down to 60 and went up again to 75 in 2012 and 85 in 2013.
The surge had been attributed to the use of obsolete equipment at the various health facilities in the districts and communities, inadequate infrastructure, bad access roads to health centres and the socio-cultural beliefs of the people in the deprived communities.
Speaking at the 2013 Annual Performance Review Meeting, the acting Director of the Western Regional Health Directorate, Dr Kwaku Anin Karikari, said the health facilities in the communities were not adequately equipped neither were they in a position to handle serious complications.
He also said most of the structures were improvised and not appropriately designed to serve as health facilities. Health staff needed in emergency cases lived very far from the various hospitals as a result of lack of staff accommodation.
Dr Kakari said easy and safe access to health facilities by the sick and expectant mothers was very crucial, however, the road infrastructure from the communities to the health centres were in a very deplorable state and that made the expectant mothers arrive at the hospital late.
To arrest the situation, he said, “the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) have a critical role to play and, as a matter of urgency, they must rise up and assist to improve the bad road network to these health facilities.”
He said that the biggest challenge, apart from the obsolete equipment, was staff accommodation. “If the critical health staff are not accommodated within or near the health facility, it will be difficult for them to respond promptly to emergency cases.”
Several issues were raised at the meeting that brought together various health experts in the region. Key among issues raised were that the recommendations for audited reports on maternal deaths should be implemented, and monitoring and supervision should be intensified.
The health experts also called on the new district assemblies to set up their health directorates immediately. They also said the MMDAs should tackle the key challenges in the health sector, such as the increasing maternal and child mortality.
The doctors and health personnel added that issues such as delayed reimbursements from the National Health Insurance Authority was a major challenge impeding their efforts to provide quality health care to the general public.