Management and staff of Obaatan Pa Women’s Hospital, Representatives of Vlisco, the media, ladies and gentlemen, Good morning!
It is a great pleasure for me to be here today.I would like to seize the opportunity to congratulate the management of Obaatanpa Women’s Hospital for their support in women’s health and childbearing, by creating a model health care facility for women, with high quality, affordable care, offered in a clean environment, with dignity afforded to all who are served and also supporting local midwives as they are the ones who perform the majority of obstetric deliveries in developing countries.
As the year 2015 gets closer, development experts are keenly monitoring the efforts being made by various countries to attain the eight millennium development goals to improve the lives of the people. Generally, majority of the countries all over the world are working actively to meet the goals or at least get close to the targets. One of the goals that Ghana is actively working on is the reduction of maternal mortality. The developing world generally presents high figures in maternal mortality. The lifetime risk of dying from pregnancy in all developing countries is estimated at one in 48.
Ghana falls further below that figure with the possibility of one in 35 women. For developed countries it is one in one thousand eight hundred (1,800). Recent W. H. O estimate pegs it at 350 per 100 thousand live births. Perhaps for some, this is an improvement but the bare fact is that one death is one too many because of the implications for the family of the woman involved. It is therefore informative that Ghana is actively working towards reducing the maternal mortality rate to 54 per 100 thousand live births by 2015.
To a large extent most of these deaths are avoidable. Yet it will depend on the knowledge available to the woman involved and the family in general to make the right decision during pregnancy.
Antenatal care is one of the most important ways of reducing maternal mortality. The question is: how many women are taking advantage of it. It is good to note that many women are aware of the need to visit the antenatal clinic in the course of pregnancy but there are those who still find it difficult to go to such facilities. For remote communities, visit to the antenatal clinic is a luxury. Sometimes, traditions that demand such visits should be sanctioned by the man, even in an emergency, creates problems for some women, eventually resulting in death. The health authorities are now de-emphasizing the use of traditional birth attendants with the view that their role over the years did not significantly change the maternal mortality figures for the country.
The focus now is to have supervised delivery with a skilled attendant present. In emergencies the attendants are able to provide the necessary assistance. Ghana Health Service statistics show that 15 percent of pregnancies develop complications and become emergencies. The problem is that some of these complications cannot be predicted and worst of all cannot be prevented. Yet early identification, if you are in a facility can help for it to be managed to avoid needless death. Without doubt where there is provision of emergency obstetric care services, maternal mortality is significantly reduced. Women should be able to access those facilities as their mere presence alone will not lead to a reduction in maternal deaths. When women are protected in pregnancy and childbirth, society stands to benefit from their economic contributions and there is improvement in family life.
Whenever we complain about children on the streets and other attendant problems, the problem can partly be traced to the non-availability of a mother to support the family. The protection of women by ensuring that childbirth is safe is at the centre of the Millennium Development Goals.
While we talk about reducing maternal deaths as Goal 5, it invariably links up with Goal 4 which is reducing Child Mortality and Goal One in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. The effort to encourage women to visit their health facilities during pregnancy must be complimented by positive attitude from health workers. This is the only way to motivate the mothers to continue to show up at the facilities. Every life is important and it pays for all not to see the figures as just mere statistics. They can relate to anybody from government officials through health workers to the person on the street. The clarion call is: ‘a woman should not die giving life’.
Our mutual efforts, our support – all this African moms need most of all. Together, we will fulfill our duty of cherishing every human life.
I sincerely thank Vlisco for giving me the opportunity to be part of this worthy project.