About 2,000 women die from pregnancy related complications out of every 100,000 births recorded in West Africa while 60 out of every 1,000 babies born in the sub-region die during childbirth or within the first week of their birth, a survey by US-based Disease Control Priorities Project has revealed.
This was contained in a background document issued at a three-day workshop on high level consultative meeting on sub-regional strategy for the reduction of maternal and prenatal mortality and morbidity in Accra.
The workshop attended by representatives from national health institutions in West Africa would adopt an approach to reduce prenatal mortality by 23 per cent by 2015 as targeted in the Millennium Development Goals.
Dr Henrietta Odoi-Agyarko, Deputy Director of Public Health, expressed regret that interventions made by health experts over the past 20 years to reduce child, maternal and prenatal morbidity had yielded minimal results.
She said these deaths had even increased in some countries in the sub-region, whereas others were struggling to control the threat.
Dr Odoi-Agyarko said the issue had received less political commitment and even from donor partners since implementation of interventions were also not encouraging.
She said inadequate skilled attendants to assist women during child birth, poor family planning and the administration of contraceptives and its related services in the sub-region, were challenges to safe motherhood.
Dr Odoi-Agyarko mentioned lack of commitment and goodwill by politicians and donor agencies as contributing little to the reverse of trend.
“The time has come for us to see politicians who would be championing the causes of maternal issues as they do for other diseases like HIV/AIDS”.
Dr (Mrs) Gladys Ashitey, Deputy Minister of Health, who opened the workshop, said internal conflicts had remained threats to some countries to attain the goals of Vision 2010 of reducing maternal morbidity as ratified in Mali in 2001.
She said while adopting the strategies, there was the need to address issues such as poor quality health services and poor transportation systems that impeded access to obstetric health care.
The Deputy Minister noted that the inadequate number of health professionals, especially in rural areas was a contributory factor to the high maternal mortality rates and called incentives to encourage them to work in such communities.
Dr Kabba Joiner, Director-General of the West African Health Organisation, said the participants would discuss the adoption of a life cycle approach that would include advocacy, social mobilisation, capacity building, partnership development and the dissemination of best practices.
The Disease Control Priorities Project supported by the Fogarty International Centre of the US National Institute of Health and other donor agencies are working to improve the health of developing countries.
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