The reduction of maternal mortality has long been a global health priority, and is a key concern of the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health.

Despite considerable investment in health care, Ghana has not made adequate progress in reducing maternal mortality.

The UN estimates that in 2013, when the country had an estimated population of over 25.9 million, 3,100 women died for reasons related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Maternal mortality has fallen, from 760 to 380 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births between 1990 and 2013, and is projected to fall further, to 358 per 100,000 live births in 2015.

However, this is still considerably higher than the MDG 5 target of 190 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

In 2018, Ghana recorded a decrease in maternal mortality and morbidity cases, as 98 per cent of pregnant women attended antenatal care.

For over 30 years, the high maternal mortality rates in Africa have paused a challenge to the United Nations.

As of 1990, the maternal mortality rate in Ghana was 216 per 100,000 live births.

In 2010, the number reduced to 164 per 100,000 live births. There is hope that the maternal mortality rate in Ghana 2018 will be lower.

The government alongside other non-governmental bodies worked tirelessly to reduce these deaths.

The expected maternal mortality rate should not be higher than 54 per 100,000 live births. According to the most recent statics that was carried out in Ghana, expectant women aged between 35-49 registered the highest maternal mortality in Ghana as a result of miscarriages.

As per a census carried out in 2008, the maternal mortality rate in Ghana by regions result were not so good.

The Western region registered the highest figures, of 314.9 deaths per 100,000 live births. The Upper West region registered 140 deaths per 100,000 live births.

However, in 2016, Accra equally registered higher number of maternal deaths.

The results of a survey that was carried out in 2016 show that the Greater Accra Region registered 197 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Out of these deaths, 100 deaths per live births were as a result of bleeding.

The government is still focused on the Millennium Development Goals, whose target is 54 deaths per 100,000 live deaths.

A health survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service in urban and rural areas from the three zonal levels: coastal, middle and northern revealed that mortality ratio reduced from 451 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2007 to 343 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017.

Maternal health

Government Statistician, Baah Wadieh challenged actors in the health sector to prioritise maternal healthcare in order to achieve its health targets.

He said "Many of these deaths are preventable and we need to take decisive action in this regard.

"We need to make sure that the survey findings are utilised for decision-making by health professionals at the national regional district and community levels as well as by researchers, policymakers and politicians."

MDG on mortality rate

Hunger and malnutrition were observed to increase the incidence and fatality rate of the conditions that contribute to nearly 80 percent of maternal deaths in Ghana.

Improving maternal health is critical to saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of women who die due to complications from pregnancy and childbirth each year.

Over 90 percent of these deaths could be prevented if women in developing regions had access to sufficient diets, basic literacy and health services, and safe water and sanitation facilities during pregnancy and childbirth.

Ghana under MDG 5:

A 45 percent reduction in maternal mortality ratio worldwide since 1990, though most of the reduction occurred since 2000.

Increase in contraceptive prevalence among women 15 – 49 years old – whether married or in some other union – from 55 to 64 percent between 1990 and 2015.

A key contribution to the country's slow progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal 5 is that policy choices have often been in response to emergency or advancing problems rather than the use of preventive measures.

Ghana can benefit greatly from long-term preventive strategies, the development of human resources, infrastructure and community health education.

Multiple challenges have prevented developing countries from making good progress in reducing maternal deaths, including inefficient maternity referral systems, inadequate numbers and uneven distribution of skilled health personnel and sociocultural barriers to use of obstetric services.

Ghana has so far adopted various strategies in response to specific maternal health challenges.

Maternal-mortality

A significant measure introduced in 2008, to improve equity in access to maternity care services is the provision of free maternal healthcare services for all pregnant women through the Ghana National Health Insurance Scheme.

Conclusion

Most maternal deaths in Ghana are preventable and about 65% of them are attributable to four causes: postpartum haemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, abortion and sepsis.

One of the most fundamental ways to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality is ensuring that every birth occurs with the help of skilled health personnel – midwife, nurse, or doctor.

Progress in increasing the proportion of births delivered with skilled attendance has been modest over the MDG time frame, which is an indication of the lack of universal access to care.

Significant progress has been made in reducing maternal deaths and increasing global access to reproductive health, though the targets were not achieved.

Improvements can be made by addressing the large inequities in maternal health, and strengthening individual country capacity to tackle the problems.