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Lack of specialists, staff attrition affecting maternal health in U/East – Health Director

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The Upper East Regional Health Directorate has mentioned the lack of critical health specialists and staff attrition as a major setback affecting maternal mortality in the region.

The region recorded 24 maternal deaths mid-year 2021, being the highest rate recorded in the past three years.

The directorate among other problems mentioned above also attributed the maternal mortality rate to inadequate logistics.

Speaking at a mid-year performance review in Bolgatanga, Regional Director of Health Services, Dr. Emmanuel Kofi Dzotsi, appealed to the government to urgently intervene by posting more specialists to the region.

The event was on the theme: Harnessing the contribution of all stakeholders in reducing the high occurrences of maternal deaths in Bolgatanga.

“Regrettably, maternal mortality in the Upper East Region has witnessed an upward trend of 24 maternal deaths representing 114.2/100,000 Live Births, the highest rate recorded in the region in the past 3 years. Anaemia at registration increased from 40.1% to 49.9% while stillbirths increased from 13.4% to 14.8%.

“Human resource remains critical in the battle against maternal deaths but in the region, the acute shortage of Medical officers, specialists, physician assistants, midwives, laboratory scientists, and many more continue to tell on our efforts in fighting and drowning this menace”.

“New medical officers and specialists (including obstetricians/gynaecologists) posted to the region feel reluctant or fail to assume duties while there is high attrition of staff. The region is perceived as unattractive and therefore great difficulty in attracting and retaining critical staff such as doctors, midwives, professional nurses, and physician assistants. There is also lack of financial clearance to recruit support staff and staff unwillingness to be posted to hard-to-reach areas, especially midwives and nurses”.

Despite the setbacks, the region made strides in Zero malaria mortality for under 5 years children, an increase in skilled delivery rate to 79.2%, ANC coverage to 87.4%, family planning acceptor rate of 39.4%, and reduced mother-to-child transmission of HIV from 15.2% to 5.4%.

Dr. Dzotsi also disclosed that the region has recorded a cumulative 1,337 positive COVID-19 cases since April 2020, of which 1,279 have been discharged while 51 died.

The region currently has seven active COVID-19 cases, involving two health workers and a student in a tertiary institution.

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