What exactly happened that night on 17 July 2012, when a taxi rushed a dying Charity through the gates of Keta Municipal Hospital? Could Charity’s life have been saved?
This report illustrates the small positive changes that can grow into big ones. It’s a story about Shawarna Mohammed, a young woman from Kpalbe in Northern Ghana. She featured in ‘The Lights Have Gone Out Again’, the documentary that inspired the Maternal Health Channel Television Series, when she was fearful about her impending delivery as she had previously lost her child. We go back four years later to witness changes in the maternal health care services there.
Korle bu Hospital was established in 1923 and has grown from an initial 200 bed capacity to 2000. The hospital leads in the provision of specialist health services but it lacks space and is under pressure from ever increasing patient numbers. A young woman is rushed into the theatre for an emergency operation, another is fighting for her life in the corridor of the Maternity Ward. The documentary takes us behind the scenes to give us a view of the Maternity Ward, one of the busiest in the hospital.
Every surgeon puts on a green gown, straps a mask around their mouth and nose and starts an operation with the assurance that there is an adequate amount of blood to save the patient’s life. What happens when the blood bank is nearly empty?
According to Dr. Dsane of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), most of the maternal deaths at Ghana’s premier hospital are referred emergency cases from other hospitals and clinics. Majority of these pregnant women come from the second tier clinics from poor neighbourhoods such as Mamprobi, Kasoa and Mamobi. Is Korle Bu Hospital now a dumping ground for maternal deaths?
An essential prerequisite to developing good practice is to learn from others; how their experience informs the issues and challenges you face. Our first tribute is to Professor Fred Sai, recognized the world over for his contributions to the field of family health. Known as the grandfather of maternal health, Prof Sai has brought dedication, passion and wisdom to a field that has often been little understood or appreciated.
Every hospital prides itself on its human resource, the skilled personnel that provides its vital services and the equipment and facilities it possesses. This hospital appears to have it all but, is that enough? Our Roving Team visits Ghana’s most equipped hospital in Winneba to find out.
Efficient record keeping is an essential component of maternal health care delivery. For the patient, it provides critical medical information. Timely access can also reduce waiting time which in some cases can mean life or death. This report from the Hohoe Municipal Hospital pins down the problems and discusses the implications. We also meet a health specialist who is determined to fix the problem.
Let's meet Ghana's tireless gynecologist! MHC highlights Dr. Deganus' exemplary service as one of only 5 female gynecologists in Ghana's public health system. She speaks candidly about her impressions and the challenges of maternal health in Ghana, and about her service at the Tema General Hospital which delivers over 8000 babies yearly.
The Maternal Health Channel goes in search of quality healthcare in the deepest interior of rural Ghana. On our way to Kute-Buem, MHC makes a stop at the Bodada Health Centre in Bodada, Jasikan district . In In these areas, telecom signals barely work, and the broken dirt roads lead to more broken dirt roads. The Roving Crew discussed with staff how people in these villages access essential healthcare services
After an impromptu but revealing stop at the Bodada Health Centre near Jasikan, MHC continues its journey to Kute Buem . In this remote town on the Ghana – Togo border, where there are no telecom signal, and the dirt roads are broken in several parts, the film crew comes face to face with a health post possessed with the barest of facilities and services. MHC talks to the only nurse at post and takes the lid off maternal health care in a forgotten part of Ghana.
MHC presents the first of two special reports from the children's ward of Salaga Government Hospital in Northern Ghana. The first report highlights the myriad of challenges confronting staff and their efforts to keep going. The studio discussion features Tabi Yaw, the Senior Nursing Officer at the hospital and Bright Appiah, Executive Director of Child Rights International.
In Dagbani, Salaga comes from the word salsi which means a "place of abode". Is Salaga Hospital the best "abode of care" for the children of Salaga? The second report broadens the discussion to consider Ghana's commitment to the right of children to improved health care. The documentary features some evocative pictures from MHC photographer, Desire Clarke. The studio discussion features, Dr. Juliette Tuakli, consultant pediatrician and public health specialist and Dr. Aniban Chartejee, Head of Health and Nutrition, UNICEF.
Bomkpa is one of the most isolated villages in Northern Ghana. You can hardly find it on the map. The village is also unique because the people have never seen a doctor, a professional midwife or even a health assistant. The nearest hospital is at Salaga, several hours by motorbike. That is if you can cross the river. The bridge is broken. The MHC Roving Film Crew made a memorable trip to Bomkpa to the file one of the most fascinating reports of the series.
Much interest has been generated by the Bomkpa story. This week, the Ghana Armed Forces joins the debate about improving health access to isolated villages.
MHC hears powerful testimonies from the people of Bomkpa who speak candidly about the absence of health services in the village and the challenges they face living in a deprived, remote community. The women lead with stories of their sisters and daughters who died as a result of pregnancy related complications. What is to be done, is the question on everybody's lips - not least about the broken bridge which separates the village from the rest of the country.
This week, MHC concludes its special report on Bomkpa, one of Ghana's most isolated villages. The bridge that connects the village to the rest of the country is broken. We hear more testimonies from the people's meeting and discuss how best to improve access to essential health services. Will the Ghana Army come to the rescue and construct the broken bridge? Capt. Quashigah of the 48th Engineering Regiment joins the discussion.
The incredible story of Dove in the Volta Region where women are not allowed to give birth. Once a woman is pregnant and about to deliver, she must leave the village to give birth somewhere else. We follow Patience, who is nine months pregnant and about to leave the village. We also speak to the chief and custodians of this extraordinary tradition. What are the implications for maternal health?
This week, we continue the incredible story of Dove, the place women are not allowed to give birth. It is the turn of the chief, Torgbui Sakplika III and other custodians of this extraordinary tradition to explain why.
This week, MHC takes a critical look at the consumption of baked clay, popularly known as "ayilo" by thousands of pregnant women in Ghana. Some women say it helps them cope with diarrhoea, stomach discomfort, nausea and other pregnancy related conditions. Many health practitioners however insist that the baked clay is one reason why so many women in Ghana are anaemic. "Ayilo" has also been associated with lead poisoning, dental injury and other undesirable effects among pregnant women and some post natal complications. MHC speaks to women who say they are addicted to "ayilo" and need help and visit Anfoaga in the Volta Region, where the freshly mined clay soil is moulded into lumps, oven baked and distributed to markets across Ghana.
Loss of blood during delivery is the most singular cause of maternal deaths in Ghana. To combat this, the health service spends millions of dollars year after year providing iron tablets, folic acids and other micro nutrients to pregnant women at ante natal clinics. This money is wasted on the thousands of women addicted to baked clay or ayilo. What is to be done?
MHC brings to your attention the harrowing death of Perfect Daba, a young and promising 23 year old woman from the village of Torgome in the Volta Region of Ghana. Perfect bled to death in the course of seven extraordinary hours during which she failed to reach the hospital. At the crucial moment, the gate leading out of the village, the only way out was locked. The gate belonged to the Volta River Authority. Sammy, Perfect’s husband recollects the dramatic moments
MHC's dramatic story about the death of Perfect Daba has raised a lot of media comments and public discussion. At the critical moment during the dash to hospital, the VRA gate was locked and caused a significant delay. Perfect died. Should Sammy, Perfect’s husband receive compensation from the VRA?
MHC broke the story of Perfect Daba, the young mother from Torgome who gave birth to a baby girl and bled to death after failing to reach the hospital.The story produced shock waves and a huge public outcry with calls to the VRA to open the gate at all times, upgrade the local health clinic and support Sammy, Perfect's widower and his 3 children. Last Sunday, VRA met the elders and people of Torgorme and promised to consider these demands, a significant shift from their initial stance. This week is critical. We talk to Prof. Dzodzi Tsikata, on the Volta River Resettlement Project and human rights lawyer, Frema Coker Appiah.
MHC starts a three part mini series on unsafe abortions. It is one issue we cannot afford to ignore. Nearly 25 % of all maternal deaths in Ghana are the result of unsafe abortions, usually in backstreets or in the hands of quarks or unskilled medical personnel. “Diana” talks courageously about going through 11 unsafe abortions in two years. “Adaeze shares her traumatic experiences. Both share key insights into the minds of young girls and women who choose to terminate their pregnancy and shed light on the way forward.
We continue our mini series on unsafe abortions with two leading exponents of improved reproductive health services in Ghana today; Ms. Faustina Fynn – Nyame, Country Director, Marie Stopes International and Dr. Jehu Appiah, Country Director, IPAS. They discuss the rising death statistics from unsafe abortions, their social impact and the law on abortion. What is happening in our public health facilities? What is the impact of social stigmatisation on the demand for safe medical services? What do you say to a doctor who refuses to save the life of a woman who has attempted self abortion? The two leading voices help us ask the right questions and suggest positive ways forward.
We conclude our mini - series on unsafe abortion in Madina, Accra, very close to the back street abortion clinic operated by the infamous “Dr. Drah”. He performed hundreds of illegal abortions and even had unprotected sex with some of his clients. The shocking revelations, supported by video evidence from undercover investigator, Anas hit the national headlines in June 2012. The question many people were asking was; why are so many young girls and women willing to risk gross abuse and even their lives at the hands of such back street quacks? We gathered a representative group of young people, especially young women to find out why and more besides. It was a unique conversation that laid bare current thinking about sex, pregnancy and contraception, social stigma and dilemmas and what young people believe to be the ways forward.
Excessive bleeding is the major cause of maternal deaths. In Ghana, the drug Ergometrine is widely used to stem bleeding during and after labour. In a recent report by Ghana Food and Drugs Authority and the Promoting the Quality of Medicines programme (PQM) however, 82.73% of the samples examined did not meet the required standards for quality. 65.50% of Oxytocin samples, also a critical drug in post delivery procedures was also found to be sub-standard. This week's programme features Dr. Patrick Lukulay, Director of PQM, the project committed to ensuring the quality and safety of medicines globally. He talks about the critical findings of this alarming report which has serious implications for Ghana’s campaign to reduce maternal deaths.
Nobody knows when or where a medical emergency would happen. It could be someone suddenly falling sick, a road accident or a woman in a severe pregnancy related complication. In all these instances, a quick dash to the hospital may be the only way to save a life. If you dialed 193 right now, would you get an answer? Would there be an ambulance ready to leave the station? Currently, there are only 121 ambulance stations across Ghana for 24 million people. Assuming the ambulance leaves the station, how easy would it be to locate you since many streets in Ghana have no names. What about the traffic? How quickly would an ambulance reach you? Felix Apeamenyo lost his wife because he did not know the number 193. His wife delivered in a taxi and started bleeding. When they got to the nearest hospital, she was refused treatment. Felix’s wife died on their way to the next hospital. We are calling 193 to better understand the workings of the ambulance service and discuss the challenges with Dr. Armed Zakaria, the hard working boss of the National Ambulance Service.
Its past midnight and the busy streets of Accra are quiet and deserted. A group of young women and girls are huddled together under the open skies, sleeping. As dawn approaches, the weather turns chilly but all they have are thin sheets of cloth to keep warm. These are Accra’s market porters or Kayayei some as young as eight who have made the streets their home since arriving from Northern Ghana in search of greener pastures. In this three part mini - series, we follow three young women; Lariba, who has two children, the second she says she delivered herself in a street corner, Aisha who is pregnant and still works more than ten hours a day and Abibabu, pregnant with her second child. None of them has ever visited a hospital. Most Kayayei have never seen a doctor. Are Kayayei fulfilling their dreams or trapped in demeaning life styles that must concern all of us. What about their maternal health and their children? MHC goes in search of some answers in Accra’s inner city.
This week, MHC continues the extraordinary story of Kayayei, young female street porters living rough on the streets of Accra. Our interview with Lariba, the young woman who single handedly delivered her baby provoked a lot of discussion and welcoming responses from the health authorities. Kayayei associations have also called for better security in the face of increasing incidence of rape and robbery.They have also called for improved maternal health care. The situation in Accra's poorest districts is urgent. This week, we will repeat the dramatic documentary that has got everyone talking and interview Lucille Lamptey, who was moved by a TV documentary to collect and distribute free diapers to needy infants and toddlers. Her organisation, Blissful Bottoms also offers help and guidance on baby care and parenting to Kayayei.
The plight of Kayayei has touched the heart of the nation with vibrant commentaries in public and both the print and electronic media. What was hidden or untold is now uncovered and recurrent in public discourse. Some key agencies and institutions have also responded to the urgent tasks ahead. MHC contributes to the search for practical and sustainable solutions to the problems confronting Kayayei, especially poor maternal and reproductive health care and insecurity on the streets. Dr. Linda Van – Otoo, Regional Director of Greater Accra Region, Ghana Health Service and Mr. Abu Mahamadou of Marie Stopes International join the discussion.
MHC TV meets Dr. Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira, Director - General of Ghana Health Service (GHS) to discuss some of the key issues raised in the series. The focus is our hospitals. What is to be done to reduce the high incidence of maternal deaths and to ensure that they provide the best possible health care for women? We revisit Charity’s Story, a report from Keta Hospital to discuss blood shortages, lack of skilled personnel and over concentration of Ghanaian doctors and nurses in urban centres and overseas, especially in the US and Europe. Are we training enough midwives? What about traditional birth attendants? Are do we integrate them effectively into the national health system? What is the strategy to meet the health needs of vulnerable groups such as Kayayei? Dr. Appiah Denkyira engages the challenges diligently and proposes a league table for good practice in the public health service.
MHC TV continues the discussion with Dr. Ebenezer Appiah Denkyira, Director - General of Ghana Health Service (GHS) on key issues confronting maternal health care in Ghana. The focus is our rural communities and their access to essential maternal health care. We revisit the issue of traditional birth attendants and how they can be integrated more effectively into the health care system. What is the strategy to meet the health needs of vulnerable groups such as Kayayei? Dr. Appiah Denkyira engages the challenges and proposes a range of creative solutions.
It's been truly eventful since MHC launched in February 2013, with the series achieving what can be described as a 'megaphone effect' throughout the media, and creating a positive impetus for change throughout the country. In the words of Justice Jones Victor Mawulorm Dotse, the Supreme Court judge who endorsed MHC during the recent election petition, 'These are issues we must address!' We are pleased MHC has struck a chord and is resonating positively throughout the country. We are committed to continuing this critical task in the service of all our mothers and our dear country. This week, we conclude the first season of our television series with the final part of our interview with Dr. Appiah - Denkyira, Director General of the Ghana Health Service. Don't miss the head of Ghana Health Service responding to the key issues highlighted by the series. There will be special TV programmes as we prepare for another riveting series of the Maternal Health Channel. MHC LIVE continues the positive impetus generated by the series with a tour of 20 communities throughout Ghana.
MHC continues to highlight key policy issues that inform Ghana’s commitment towards reducing maternal mortality and improving child health. In 2008, maternal deaths was declared a ‘national’ emergency’. Since then, there have been concerted efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Time is short and unfortunately the goals may not be met. The policy focus is reproductive health and family planning with revealing insights by Professor Fred Sai. We also hear powerful voices from a cross section of Ghanaian society calling for an end to maternal deaths and improved health for all women and children. Don’t miss it.
Mr. John De - Graft Baiden is a hero. He has made a total of 121 blood donations to the Ghana Blood Service and voted Best Blood Donor in Ghana. He does what he does for very good reason. He hails from Assin Fosu, a relatively small district in the Central Region which has recorded several maternal deaths. Almost all the women died from excessive bleeding from pregnancy related complications or during child birth. “ I could not bear to see all these women die, whilst I could do something about it” explained Mr. De - Graft Baiden. Majority of Ghanaians would share his sentiments but voluntary blood donation is still not popular and usually limited to special appeals. Most people will donate blood when a relative or friend is seriously ill. Ghana’s blood banks are nearly always empty. MHC continues to highlight key maternal health policy issues with a focus on this critical challenge confronting the public health service. Don’t miss it.
MHC showcases some of the positive developments that have taken place since the plight of homeless street porters, popularly known as Kayayei was screened on TV in September 2013. This week alone over 3,000 Kayayei have been registered for national health insurance in Accra. It is estimated that by the end of the year, over 20,000 would have been provided with essential health cover in Accra. In response to the TV and radio programmes, Ghana Health Service initiated a city–wide Health and Welfare Committee for the Kayayei currently made up of Ghana Health Service, National Health Insurance Scheme, Accra Health Metros, USAID, The Maternal Health Channel, Marie Stopes International, Blissful Bottoms, Ghana Police and Kayayei representatives. The committee is now leading changes in health provision for this extremely poor and vulnerable social group across Ghana’s Capital.