Treat pregnant adolescents with dignity to reduce maternal mortality – Health Professionals advised

Dr Samuel Sullemana, a Medical Doctor at the Tamale Teaching Hospital, has advised health professionals especially Midwives, Gynaecologists and Obstetricians and Medical Officers in general to treat pregnant adolescents with dignity, respect and confidentiality.

He said if these teenagers feel welcomed, they could visit antenatal care frequently until their time was due for delivery.

Dr Sullemana gave the advice at the opening of a four-day training programme organised by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Ghana (SOGOG) in collaboration with the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Canada under the auspices of Oxfam Ghana with support from the Ghana Health Service for health professionals in Accra.

The training was to help enhance maternal and new-born care and reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.

‘The first experience given to pregnant adolescents at health facilities will determine if they will come back to us or not. When they are treated with disrespect and words like Madam, go and lie down there, among others, then they might not come back until their time is due or until they have complications that they will be rushed back to us.

‘Don’t treat any adolescent like an adult because they have their vulnerabilities. The care given to them will either contribute to maternal mortality and morbidity or reduce it,’ he said.

Dr Sullemana said pregnant adolescents accounted for the highest number of maternal mortality, exceeding women in their 20s, adding that about 3.9 million girls aged 15 to 19 undergo unsafe abortions every year.

Meanwhile, they were reluctant to attend antenatal care due to factors like being treated with disrespect and not being sure if confidentiality was secured, he noted.

Dr Promise Sefogah, the General Secretary of SOGOG, said the need to promote good quality care for pregnant women and adolescents had become necessary as maternal mortality rates were unacceptably high in Ghana.

He said problems of hypertension in pregnancy and its complications as well as excessive blood loss during pregnancy, delivery and after delivery, were the leading causes, followed by unsafe abortion.

Dr Sefogah, also a Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana Medical School, said pregnant adolescents were prioritised at the training because they were vulnerable, lacked the best of care and nutrition from families, and sometimes received negative attitudes from some healthcare practitioners at facilities during their period of pregnancy and delivery.

This, he said, deterred them from utilising antenatal care frequently, a situation which increased their complications and sometimes caused death.

He explained that the training programme was an internationally certified course called Advances in Labour and Risk Management International (ALARM) programme and therefore representatives from the various health facilities would upon return train their colleagues to widen the knowledge gap for better health care delivery.

‘We will also do follow up, monitoring and mentoring to ensure that the programme has a better impact,’ he added.

Mr Mahmud Mohammed, the Accountable Governance Programme Manager, Oxfam Ghana, said the training was part of Oxfam’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights programme implemented in seven countries to promote quality maternal healthcare delivery.

It was also to build capacity of male adolescents and boys on their rights to Reproductive services and for women and adolescent girls to receive quality and friendly Reproductive health services to reduce maternal mortality.

‘We believe in Oxfam that no woman should die in an effort to give birth to a life. The whole effort is therefore to ensure that we don’t lose our mothers, sisters, and aunties in the process of childbirth,’ he said.

The health professionals made up of Medical Officers, Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Midwives represented the Tamale Teaching Hospital, Ashaiman Polyclinic, Walewale Municipal Hospital (West Mamprusi), Tanoso Hospital, Korlebu Teaching Hospital, Savelugu Municipal Hospital, Ewim Polyclinic, (Cape Coast), Kajeje Health Centre (Sene East), and Kasoa Polyclinic.

Source: Ghana News Agency