HYPERTENSION has overtaken haemorrhage as the leading cause of maternal mortality in Ghana’s cities.
This has been attributed to the changing behavioural and lifestyle characteristics of women, especially pregnant women, in the cities.
The Deputy Director of Reproductive Child Health at the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Aboagye, who made this known in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Kumasi, therefore, called on pregnant women to watch their lifestyles.
Other major direct causes of maternal mortality are infection, unsafe abortion and obstructed labour.
Dr Aboagye was speaking after the opening of a stakeholder dissemination review meeting of a study to address postpartum haemorrhage in Kumasi last Friday.
The study was instituted by the GHS, in conjunction with the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) at Bonsaaso in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region, with the view to finding new ways of preventing the death of women who deliver in the home.
There are three types of high blood pressure in pregnant women.
One is chronic hypertension, where high blood pressure develops before the 20th week of pregnancy or is present before the woman becomes pregnant.
The second is gestation hypertension, where some women just get high blood pressure near the end of pregnancy, while the third is pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), which condition can cause serious problems for both the mother and the baby if left untreated.
PIH develops after the 20th week of pregnancy. Along with high blood pressure, it causes protein in the urine, blood changes and other problems.
Earlier in a speech at the opening ceremony, Dr Aboagye had said all hands needed to be on deck to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 5 of reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015.
He indicated that the country had stepped up the training of midwives, with at least 500 being trained every year.
The Team/Cluster Manager of the Bonsaaso MVP, Mr Samuel Afram, said the project had shown evidence that achieving MDG 5 was possible.
He said until recently when one pregnant woman died, the project area had not recorded any maternal death for about two years.
Mr Afram explained that the project had adopted various measures to protect pregnant women, adding that since health was related to nutrition, the project was working with other related agencies to achieve an integrated comprehensive approach to ensure the safety of pregnant women.
The Regional Advisor for the MVP in charge of West and Central Africa, Ms Mavis Ama Frimpong, said the project and the GHS were piloting the use of an oral medication that prevented bleeding after delivery.
That, she said, had become necessary because of the number of women who delivered in homes in the country.
About 50 per cent of pregnant women in the country deliver in the home, with all the accompanying risks.