The Upper East Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Winfred Ofosu has attributed the high maternal mortality ratio in the Region to lack of ambulances to readily transport expectant mothers to major referral health facilities for management.
He said a total of 19 maternal deaths were recorded by the middle of 2019, giving maternal mortality ratio of 104.5 per 100,000 live births compared to 17 deaths with maternal mortality ratio of 98.5 deaths per 100,000 live births, the same period in 2018.
The Director said even though the GHS had initiated tricycle ambulances to transport patients from rural areas to hospitals for urgent medical intervention, the road network in the Region was not good and the tricycle ambulances could not transport patients at night because of security reasons.
“Having ambulances that can really visit all the places, and can travel on our roads will help a lot to reduce the delays in arriving at the facilities for interventions.
“That is the major challenge that accounted for the increase that we saw in the half-year of 2019.”
Dr Ofosu said this in an interview with the media on the sideline of the Region’s half-year health performance review conference held in Bolgatanga.
The event was on the theme: “The role of quality data in achieving Universal Health Coverage in Upper East Region.”
“We know that the government has ordered 275 ambulances for all the constituencies so in actual fact we are waiting for those ambulances to augment the system so that they can work in sync with the tricycle ambulances that we have,” Dr Ofosu said.
“If that happens, we will be able to reduce the delays associated with maternal complications and transfer from lower levels, CHPS compounds and health centres to the hospitals. We are urgently waiting for them and we hope that they would arrive quickly,” he added.
He said the service coverage in the Region, like previous years, continued to be mixed with marginal increases and worsening of some indicators, and noted that Antenatal coverage during the period was 79.5 percent compared to 78.1 percent in 2018.
Skilled delivery was 71.4 percent compared to 70.1 percent, and Post Natal Care was 71.9 percent compared to 70.9 in 2018, same period. Under-five mortality rate was 13.9 deaths per 1000 live births compared to 11 per 1000 live births in 2018.
The Director said the Region had significantly recorded zero under-five malaria case fatality in both 2018 and the period under review, adding that on childhood immunization, the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) coverage was 83.1 percent compared to 80.5 in 2018.
On clinical services, Dr Ofosu said the Out-Patient Department (OPD) per capita was 1.2 compared to 1.3 in 2018, even though hospital admissions increased by over 15 percent compared to last year, “Percentage OPD client insured was 92 percent compared to 92.7 percent in 2018.”
Prior to the review conference, the Ghana News Agency had over the period observed that relatives of patients in most health facilities in the Region, especially the Regional Hospital resorted to private and commercial vehicles to transport patients to referral facilities outside the Region for further medical interventions because the Region has no functioning ambulance.