Transport Unions urged to champion the campaign against maternal mortality

Cape Coast, June 15, GNA – Transport Unions in the Central Region have been urged to re-echo the call for commercial vehicle owners and drivers to provide free vehicular services to pregnant women who needed obstetric emergency care.

That, according to Mr. Matthew Ahwireng, Central Regional Health Promotion Manager for the Ghana Health Service, would help reduce the high maternal mortality rate in the region, which stands at 16 for the first quarter of this year, and 61 for last year.

Giving the overview of the collaboration between the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Transport Unions on maternal care in emergency, at the Regional Health Directorate on Friday, Mr. Ahwireng said the region could no longer go back to the days of high maternal deaths due to varied reasons.

He noted that delays in recognizing danger signs of pregnancy at community levels, delays in transporting pregnant women to health facilities, delays in prompt health care delivery for pregnant mothers, among others contributed to the high incidence of maternal complications and deaths.

Mr. Ahwireng, who is also the Acting Director of Health Service for the Twifo Hemang Lower Denkyira District, added that the GHS lacked enough ambulances for emergency maternal cases and referrals to bigger health facilities.

It was for this reason, he said, that the GHS entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Transport Unions in the region in 2005 to help reduce the high maternal deaths in the region, the fourth highest in the country.

The project, which was supported by the European Union (EU), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Government of Ghana, witnessed a massive reduction in the number of maternal mortality since the MOU was signed.

However, that challenges involving resources after the sponsorship contract expired in 2010 had culminated in low publicity and sensitization drive among the Transport Unions, vehicle owners and drivers, Mr. Ahwireng indicated.

He observed, that ‘with UNFPA back on board, together with the government through the four District Assemblies currently piloting the initiative, there was the need to strengthen the collaboration between us and stakeholders, including the Motor Transport and Traffic Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service and traditional authorities.’

Representatives from the four districts currently practising the initiative, Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA), Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese (AAK), Mfantseman and the Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam (AEE), gave a review of the challenges of the scheme, and provided some mechanisms being adopted to surmount those obstacles.

‘There is no justification for pregnant women to die in whichever way, especially in today’s technological world,’ he stated and urged all health workers and transport unions to properly document all referred maternal cases to ensure the sustainability of the initiative.

Some of the challenges they raised, had to do with lack of adequate financial resources to carry out their activities, some drivers not willing to partake in the initiative due to one reason or the other, and failure to collect claim forms on the part of the drivers to be reimbursed.

Mr. Ahwireng, however, admonished drivers not to use the opportunity to flout traffic rules and regulations, and also use that to carry out their nefarious activities, but to co-operate with the Police on check points.

The initiative involved commercial drivers providing free vehicular services to distressed pregnant women to health facilities who could not readily pay for the transport fare.

The MOU recommended that drivers after such humanitarian services, collect claim forms from particular health facilities they carried the women to, fill them and return the forms to their parent transport unions for voluntary reimbursement or priority loading services.


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