Archive for the ‘Ghana’ Category

On July 1st, the Women Deliver team announced the top five highlights from the 2010 conference (June 7-9). See below for a summary of the conference highlights–with links to publications, videos, photos, and additional information that came out of the conference.

This post was originally posted on the Women Deliver website and is reposted on MMD with permission from Women Deliver.

Women Deliver 2010 Conference participants

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of the second Women Deliver global conference. To put world leaders on notice that the time for action on maternal health is now, 3,400 advocates, policymakers, development leaders, health care professionals, youth, and media from 146 countries converged on Washington, DC on June 7-9 at Women Deliver 2010. More than 800 speeches and presentations were given at the six plenaries and 120 breakout sessions.  The heads of five UN agencies, plus the Secretary-General of the United Nations, attended. Thirty countries, UN agencies, the World Bank, corporations, and foundations helped support Women Deliver. Please see below for highlights and recaps of the conference.

1. Key Statements. Read the outcome statements from the:

2. Webcasts. Watch the videos from our plenary sessions and our press conferences, and watch Hillary Clinton’s address to the Women Deliver 2010 attendees.

3. Photos. Take a look at photos from the plenary sessions, breakout sessions and other conference events, and download them at no cost.

4. Programme. Review the plenary and breakout sessions that were held at Women Deliver 2010.

5. Publications and Advocacy Tools. Visit our Knowledge Center to download publications and advocacy tools, including:

Stay tuned for our summary report on breakout sessions by theme.

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Dr. Fred Sai is co-host of Women Deliver 2010, former reproductive health and HIV/AIDS advisor to the Ghanaian government, and has spent 40 years working to improve the health of women and children in Ghana and throughout Africa.  In his June 2nd blog post, A New Role For Africans in Maternal Health, on the ONE Blog, Dr. Sai comments on the new maternal mortality estimates published in the Lancet that show a dramatic reduction in global maternal deaths–and asks questions about why Africa (as a whole) has not seen these same reductions. He also expresses confidence that a shift in approach (described in his post) will lead to major improvements in the health of women and children throughout Africa.

The ONE Blog

“…It is an unfortunate truth that progress for the world at large does not necessarily mean progress for Africa. In 1980, almost a quarter of maternal deaths occurred in African countries. Today that figure has doubled to more than half. All but one of the 30 countries with the worst maternal mortality statistics are in Africa. And while countries like Ghana and Rwanda have seen a steady decline in maternal deaths over the past 15 years, others such as Malawi, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire actually have higher maternal mortality rates than they did in 1990.

Addressing maternal mortality in Africa is complex and challenging. Our countries face increasing rates of HIV, entrenched and debilitating poverty, food shortages, weak education and health care systems, problematic governance, corruption, and civil conflict. These are huge issues in their own right, but they also have significant impact on maternal, newborn and child health. The challenges, however, are not the whole story…”

Read the full post, A New Role For Africans in Maternal Health.

For additional reactions to the Lancet publication from other leaders in the maternal health field, click here.

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The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Global Health Initiative, the Maternal Health Task Force, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) invite you to attend (or watch online) the fifth event of the series on Advancing Policy Dialogue on Maternal Health: Improving Transportation and Referral for Maternal Health. The event will be held on May 20th from 3-5pm in Washington, D.C.

The MHTF Blog

“…Access to skilled birth attendants and emergency obstetric care are key solutions to improving maternal morality, yet functioning referral systems and poor road infrastructure delay efficient care. Increased research, funding, knowledge sharing, and coordination between private and public sectors are necessary to make transportation and referral a global health priority.

Today’s discussion will highlight the lessons and knowledge gaps identified at a Wilson Center workshop in Washington DC with 25 experts from the transportation and maternal health communities, as well as representatives from the private sector and donor community.

Víctor Conde Altamirano, obstetric nets manager, CARE-Bolivia will discuss how transportation and referral data is being incorporated into Bolivia’s health system to improve maternal health. John Koku Awoonor-Williams, east regional director, Ghana Health Service, will address the utilization and maintenance of ambulances in rural Ghana. Subodh Satyawadi, chief operating officer, GVK Emergency Management Institute will discuss the lessons learned and challenges faced through India’s “Emergency 108” call system. Strategies and recommendations identified at the Wilson Center workshop in Washington DC will be provided by Patricia Bailey, public health specialist, Family Health International…”

Click here for event details, information on how to RSVP or watch the live/archived webcast, and additional info on the series!

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In honor of International Women’s Day, the BBC reports on progress toward Millennium Development Goal Five.


“…For every 100,000 live births in developing countries, 450 women die during pregnancy or labour.

The coalition, which includes White Ribbon Alliance, Amnesty International and Oxfam, says that in 1910, 355 women died per 100,000 live births in England and Wales.

In Scotland and Ireland, the rate was higher – at 572 and 531 respectively.

In Ghana today the rate of pregnancy-related deaths is 560, while in Chad it is 1,500. The rate in the UK is now 14 deaths per 100,000.

The comparison has been drawn because it was 100 years ago that International Women’s Day was established…”

Read the full story, International Women’s Day Call for Labour Deaths Action.

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The Grameen Foundation, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Ghana Health Service are working together on a project called Mobile Technology for Community Health (MoTeCH). This joint initiative, funded by the Gates Foundation,  is exploring how to best use mobile phones to increase quality and quantity of maternal and neonatal health services in Ghana.


“…For example, a woman might come in for a health check-up when she’s 12 or 14 weeks pregnant, at which point she would be registered into the MoTeCH system. She would then be on track to receive two kinds of messages: informative texts and action texts. The informative texts simply tell the parents what to expect (i.e., developmental stages) during a pregnancy, while the action texts encourage parents to make clinic visits based on their personal histories (such as needs for shots or follow-up appointments).

The other target audience of MoTeCH is community health workers who provide the vast majority of primary care in much of the developing world. The workers use mobile phones to enter data such as when they have seen a patient and what kind of treatment these patients received. Data is then compiled to more easily track patients.

The idea behind MoTeCH is to link the two systems so that the messages can be more specifically targeted and tailored to the needs of the individual parents; for example, if a pregnant woman misses a tetanus shot, the community health workers’ records will show how many weeks along she is and she can be easily sent a reminder. Similarly, messages can be sent to village community health workers alerting them to patients who are in need of specific services in order to locate the patient and encourage him or her to get treatment. ‘It gets community health care workers out of the clinic and seeking patients who need care a little bit more immediately,’ said Wood…”

Read the full story here.

For more info on the subject, take a look at Dying for Cell Phones (Literally).

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Access to cell phone technology has contributed to a dramatic reduction in maternal mortality in small villages in Ghana.

In 2006, as part of the Millennium Villages Project, cell phone producer Ericsson teamed up with mobile telecommunications firm Zain to set up mobile phone coverage in several villages in Ghana including Amensie. The companies distributed free phones to health workers and sold phones to villagers for US$10 a phone.

District Nurse Madam Lvdia Owusu said, “When we did not have mobile telecommunication, women were dying.” But since the cell phone project began in 2006, not a single maternal death has been reported in Amensie.

Public health and aid workers note that various improvements in primary health care in Amensie have contributed to the reduction in maternal mortality–but they say that the availability of cell phones has been pivotal.

Read the full story here.

To learn more about the commitment Zain has made to help Ghana achieve the Millennium Development Goals, click here.

Also, check out www.mobileactive.org, a global network of people using mobile technology for social impact.

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Peace FM Online

Training workshop focused on enhancing the role of the media in the achievement of the MDGs

The United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC), PANOS West Africa and the Global Call to Action Against Poverty Ghana (GCAP) recently organized a 3-day training workshop for journalists on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The workshop concluded on Saturday with a call from Ms. Sylvia Mwichuli, Acting Deputy Director of the African Office of the UNMC, for journalists to go beyond reporting straight news and engage in more evidence-based coverage of the MDG issues. The workshop was attended by journalists from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Ghana who explored the roles for journalists in creating awareness surrounding the Millennium Development Goals.

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User Fees are Limiting Women’s Access to Obstetrics Services
The Government of Zimbabwe along with UNICEF released new social development data which exposed a grim situation for women and children in Zimbabwe. The Multiple Indicator and Monitoring Survey (MIMS), conducted in May 2009 reported a deterioration in access to key social services for women and children, especially for the poorest populations and in rural areas. The survey also revealed alarming data that 1 in 2 pregnant women in rural areas were now delivering at home and that 39 per cent nationally were not accessing the requisite medical facilities for delivery, while 40 per cent were not attended to at birth by a skilled birth attendant. These findings confirm the result of previous research indicating that user fees and other financial barriers are limiting women’s access to life-saving obstetric services.


Proposed Abortion Law in Peru is Met with a Divided Governmental Response
In Peru a multidisciplinary committee responsible for revising the Penal Code has raised the issue of decriminalizing abortion in cases of rape or severe disability of the fetus. The Minister of Health, Oscar Ugarte, stated that therapeutic abortion is not against the right of life and announced that it will be regulated, because it is important to save the lives of women. However, the Minister of Defense, Rafael Rey, rejected the proposition and warned that he will resign his position if Congress approves the decriminalization of abortion in these exceptional circumstances. The Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Mercedes Araóz, also rejected the decriminalization of abortion and suggested that the solution in case of rape is adoption.

The First Lady Calls for the Eradication of Myths/Rumors Regarding Family Planning
The First lady, Mrs. Ernestina Naadu Mills, has called for the eradication of myths and rumors linked to family planning methods to reduce maternal mortality in Ghana. Family planning had been identified to reduce 30 percent of maternal deaths. Mrs. Naadu Mills who was launching the National Safe Motherhood campaign in Koforidua, on Thursday described as unacceptable the fact that most of maternal deaths were preventable and solutions were also available. The current maternal mortality figure for the country stands at about 451 per every 100,000 live births. The campaign aims to accelerate the reduction of maternal and newborn deaths in Ghana in order to achieve 75 percent reduction by the year 2015–Millennium Development Goal 5.

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The Gov Monitor
Australia To Provide $15 Million Humanitarian Assistance For Burma
Australia will provide $15 million in humanitarian assistance for the Burmese people still suffering from the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis which struck Burma in May 2008. $1 million will support essential maternal and child health services in particularly needy rural and remote areas.

Peace FM Online
Ghana Health Service Launches Campaign on Safe Motherhood
The GHS will launch a national campaign: “Ghana Cares; No Woman Should Die While Giving Birth” to ensure an accelerated reduction of maternal mortality.The campaign also has a subtheme: “No Woman Should Die from Bleeding during Pregnancy and Child Birth,” that will focus on hemorrhage or bleeding–a condition that significantly contributes to maternal deaths around the world.

The News
Inclusion of Reproductive Health in Curriculum Urged
Speakers at a district level advocacy seminar series organized by the World Population Foundation (WPF) said that negligence of reproductive health issues is the worst form of gender-based violence and a major factor that contributes to high maternal and infant mortality rates in the country, particularly in remote and neglected rural areas.

Abortion in Tanzania: Fighting Stigma

A major cause of maternal mortality is barely mentionable in Tanzania: abortion. Illegal unless necessary to save a woman’s life, nobody knows how significant a factor it is.

Support is Stigmatised and Scarce
Poverty, HIV and maternal mortality rates are high in Tanzania, yet religion, prejudice and logistics make access to contraception difficult. Access to family planning services is crucial in Tanzania, where the maternal mortality rate stands at 950 per 100,000 live births, higher than the average of 900 deaths per 100,000 births in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Pulse of Uganda
Museveni Wants Adolescents to Stop Early Marriages
Reports by the World Health Organization indicate that about 70,000 adolescent girls die every year in developing countries from diseases related to pregnancy.

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