Maternal mortality rate increases

Eight hundred and seventy-five maternal deaths were recorded in the country last year, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has disclosed.
The figure represented an increase of 12.3 per cent over the 776 recorded in 2020.



At the opening of the 2022 National Health Sector Annual Summit, Mr Agyeman-Manu described the situation as not good enough, indicating that the health sector recorded a mixed state of performance last year as far as its service indicators were concerned.

“Our institutional maternal mortality ratio has increased from 109.2 per 100,000 live births to 119.5 per 100,000 live births in 2021 representing 9.4 per cent.

Institutional neonatal mortality per 1000 live births also increased from 7.4 in 2020 to 7.6 in 2021,” he noted.

Furthermore, he said, institutional under five mortality rate increased from 9.8 live births in 2020 to 10.7 live births in 2021.



Other increases

Also recording increases in 2021 were outpatient cases of diabetes, hypertension and sickle cell; family planning acceptor rate which increased from 29.6 per cent to 33.8 per cent in 2021 and total deliveries recorded in 2021 was 782,958, an increase of 7.7 per cent over that of 2020.

The minister was, however, said he was happy about the country’s immunisation programme, known as the Expanded Programme on Immunisation, which, he said, had an almost 100 per cent coverage of all the immunisation schedules undertaken.

He noted that there was also a continuous decline of inpatient malaria deaths from 599 recorded in 2017 to 275 in 2021 and that, he explained, was a sign of improved case management and prevention.


Setback

The latest data on maternal mortality is a setback for the health sector, as Ghana Health Service data showed that a total number of 875 maternal deaths were recorded in 2018 and 838 in 2019 respectively.

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.

During the 2019 summit, the minister indicated that preliminary reports of the Multiple Indicator Cluster and the Maternal Mortality Surveys conducted in 2017 showed that the sector had recorded significant performance in some areas.



At that summit, he said the ministry’s efforts at bridging the equity gap that had existed for decades were beginning to yield some results, as “our doctor/ population and nurse/population ratios have shown significant improvements.

Using only nurses from the public sector, Ghana has exceeded the World Health Organisation recommended nurse to population ratio of 1 nurse to 1,000 population,” he said at the time.



Summit

The National Health Sector Summit is held by the Ministry of Health annually for all its agencies, to review the performance of the health sector in the implementation of its Programme of Work.

This year’s summit is on the theme: Strengthening Ghana’s Health Information system for tracking Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The summit, which is also to brainstorm the report of the sector, also attracts other stakeholders. Yesterday’s opening ceremony was attended by the Deputy Representative of UNICEF Ghana, Fiachra McAsey, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Nana Ayew Afriyie, and the Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, all of whom delivered solidarity messages.

Universal Health Coverage

Speaking on the theme, Mr Agyeman-Manu said health information system was one of the six essential and interrelated building blocks of a health system which role was to ensure the
production, analysis, dissemination and use of reliable and timely data by decision makers at all levels of the health system.

“A well-functioning health information system should produce reliable and timely information on health determinants, health status andhealth system performance and should
be capable of analysing this information to guide activities across all other health system building blocks,” he said.

Health information system

The Presidential Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response, Dr Anarfi Asamoa- Baah, said the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the weaknesses in the country’s health information system.

“ At the very beginning of the crisis, we needed to generate information that was accurate, credible and informative, and to do that in real time because we were dealing with a crisis that kept revolving on a daily basis.

“But this was very challenging because our system had not been designed to provide real information on a daily basis,” he said.

Added to this, he explained, was the fact that the country did not have a comprehensive policy framework to guide health information system development, a situation which resulted in every agency, organisation and programmes in the health sector developing their own information system.

Dr Asamoa-Baah said if the country was able to offer free Wi-Fi to senior high schools and computers to teachers, then same should be done for the health sector, adding that every health worker must be given a computer and every health facility must have free Wi-Fi.

“Moving forward, it is important we address the absence of a policy framework, the health system infrastructure, staff training and development and a change in ourmindset. As health professionals, we are very uncomfortable with sharing of information, so the tendency is to hoard information.”

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