The 2017 Ghana Maternal Health Survey results showed great improvement in maternal health since the 2007 survey. In the 2007 survey, the mortality rate was 451 per 1,000 live births, and in the 2017 survey, the mortality rate had decreased to 343 per 1,000 live births.
Improvements in Maternal Healthcare
Ninety-eight percent of women received prenatal care from a healthcare professional. Women who had four or more prenatal visits increased from 77 percent in 2007 to 89 percent in 2017. Women receiving care from professionals in their first trimester has also gone up from 53 percent to 64 percent.
The number of women giving birth in a hospital has also increased from 54 percent in 2007, to 79 percent in 2017. Now there are fewer children dying before their fifth birthday. The survey also showed that the mortality rates of children under 15 years old had decreased.
Fertility Rates and Family Planning
Fertility rates appear to be on a steady decline as well. In 2007, women were having an average of 4.6 children, but that has declined to 3.9 in 2017. However, 25 percent of women between 15 and 49 years of age are now using a modern method of family planning, and six percent using traditional methods, which could be part of the impact on the average children born decreasing.
The Goals of the Maternal Health Survey
The survey was implemented by the Ghana Statistical Service and the Ghana Health Service and it was funded by the Ghana Government, the United Nations Population Fund, the United States Agency for International Development, and the European Union Delegation in Ghana. They looked into both the national level of maternal health and in three zones: coastal, northern, and middle; in each zone, they focused on both the urban and rural areas.
Baah Wadieh, the Acting Government Statistician who put out the survey, said it was intended to help healthcare officials determine what the maternal mortality and morbidity rate was in the country. He said the survey was also intended to gather data on women’s experiences with and perception of prenatal, maternal, and emergency obstetrical care, focusing on the care women receive in all three areas.
“This is one of the reasons why it is very crucial that we achieve, especially the goal three of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which among others, seeks to improve maternal health and reduce the global maternal mortality ratio significantly by the year 2030,” Wadieh said.
The goal of this survey is to reduce maternal mortality rates to 203 deaths per 100,000 live births by the year 2030, and the information they obtain from the survey can help improve maternal health care for women in the country, which will, in turn, help them achieve this goal.
“This is a clarion call to Ghana to prioritize maternal health care in order to meet this target,” Wadieh said.
Wadieh has called on researchers to conduct more studies and surveys on the challenges in maternal mortality rates and what needs to be done to save these women’s lives.
Photo credit: https://medium.com/@PanAfricanUnity/why-pregnant-women-are-bleaching-their-unborn-babies-in-ghana-c3f34888be03