ETAT needed to reduce maternal deaths in Upper East – GHS

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Dr Josephat Nyuzaghl, the Upper East Deputy Regional Director in charge of Public Health of the GHS
Dr Josephat Nyuzaghl, the Upper East Deputy Regional Director in charge of Public Health of the GHS

Dr Josephat Nyuzaghl, the Deputy Upper East Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in charge of Public Health, has emphasized the need for Emergency Triage Assessment Teams (ETATs) at maternity units.

This he said would curb the high number of maternal deaths in the Region.

The call came on the backdrop of the 24 maternal deaths recorded in the first half of the year 2021 with sepsis, haemorrhage and eclampsia being the top three causes of the deaths.

Speaking on the theme; “Harnessing the contributions of stakeholders in reducing the high occurrences of maternal deaths in the Upper East Region,” Dr Nyuzaghl said 50 per cent of the pregnant women died within one to 12hours after arrival at the hospital.

“This has something to do with our emergency preparedness. So we expect that for every Hospital if there are no ETATs for the entire Hospital, at least the maternity unit should have a team with ETAT corners where your emergency trays are all prepared.

“This is not the time to have eclampsia as one of the causes of maternal deaths. You don’t wait for the patient to come before you start looking for where your magnesium sulphate is. The trays should be pre-packed based on the condition. So if you have eclampsia, you have a pack, if it is haemorrhage you have a pack.”

This, he said would enable staff at the various maternity units of the hospitals in the Region to quickly sort out emergency cases at the units, based on the severity of the conditions and prioritize them for care.

He said some of the District Hospitals had no recovery wards, where patients were detained and closely monitored after surgical operations on them, before they were moved to the general wards where close monitoring supervision were low.

He further indicated that there were issues with the health facilities in the Region saying “What we have noticed is that the capacity of most of our Health Centres to perform the Basic Emergency Obstetrics and New-born Care Signal Functions such as the administration of antibiotics is lacking.

“If a woman has difficulties in delivering, you should be able to use vacuum extraction to bring out the baby. Many of our Health Centres are not in a position to perform these functions,” the Deputy Director said.

Dr Nyuzaghl said the Region had only two Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, one at the Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga and the other at the Bawku Presbyterian Hospital.

He said with the two Specialists, supervision was a problem, “If we had enough numbers, what we could have done probably was to zone the Region into three and assign these Specialists to provide support to the Districts”

Dr Nyuzaghl said during the maternal death audit in facilities in the Region, the GHS had serious issues with some private facilities, especially in the Bawku Municipality where most of the maternal mortalities for the 2021 mid-year were recorded.

“We have serious issues with some of these private facilities regarding the qualified number of staff, appropriate equipment to do particularly surgeries. The Regional Director at one point in time threatened to stop one of the private facilities from conducting surgeries,” he said.

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