PREGNANT women in the Brong Ahafo region who are in critical condition and need to be transported to a health facility for emergency treatment would be transported free of charge.
The decision follows a meeting held last year among the Ghana Health Service (GHS), the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Kwadwo Nyamekye-Marfo, and the national and regional executives of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) for their members to render services to pregnant women during emergencies to health facilities in any part of the region for treatment, whether or not they had money to pay for transport.
The move is to help improve maternal healthcare delivery and also to reduce the high maternal deaths in the region.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified three factors that lead to high maternal mortality in developing countries as: delay in the home, delay in accessing the health facility and delay in receiving care at a health facility.
It has also been identified that factors that lead to high maternal mortality in the Brong Ahafo Region include deprivation, poverty, illiteracy, low status of women, poor sanitation and nutrition, poor transportation, traditional beliefs and poor quality health care.
The national maternal mortality survey conducted recently put the figure at 451/100,000 while at the regional level the trend of maternal deaths for 2008 was 210/100,000 higher than the national average of 194/100,000. The Brong Ahafo Region recorded 88 maternal deaths in 2007 while in 2008 and 2009, 81 and 87 deaths were recorded respectively.
Speaking at a meeting in Sunyani to formally sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the GHS and the transport unions for the programme to begin in the regional capital, Dr Aaron Offei, the Brong Ahafo Regional Director of the GHS said it was an important activity in the history of maternal health in the region and also signified an important development in collaboration with other stakeholders in health care delivery.
He noted that the MoU being signed was to address the delay related to reaching a health facility within the shortest possible time to help with timely intervention, adding that similar MoUs would be signed at the district levels, which would be witnessed by district chief executives, to facilitate implementation of the regional programme.
Dr Offei noted that many pregnant women in labour had lost their lives because they could not reach health facilities early while others had also lost their lives because they could either not afford to pay for transportation or that vehicles were not available.
He said although there had been an improvement in the ambulance service, in reality it would take a long time for the service to cover every community and it was therefore necessary to collaborate with the GPRTU, which had the largest membership and also operated in the remotest communities, to provide the services to cut down on maternal death in the region.
Dr Offei lauded the initiative and said it should be recognised as part of contributions to the 50th anniversary celebration of the creation of the region and challenged others who thought they had nothing to offer to help reduce maternal deaths in the region.
He observed that death related to pregnancy did not constitute loss to the society and family alone, but also depicted the level of socio-economic well-being of the nation, saying it was therefore not surprising that reduction of maternal death was identified as one of the key objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
“These are mothers, wives, daughters and dear ones we lost as a result of pregnancy. Maternal mortality goes beyond ordinary health interventions as they cut across many areas. They are therefore best handled through the efforts of all stakeholders,” he stated.