With over a year since it’sits emergence on the global scene, the rippling effect of the COVID-19 virus on lives and businesses, cannot be over
emphasized. In the area of health, we look at the effect of the pandemic on pregnant women and mothers with newly born babies mother’s in under deprived communities in Tema and Ada Communities of the Greater Accra Region.
Unfortunately, since the COVID-19 pandemic, pregnancy and childbirth for women are taking place in difficult conditions, especially in under deprived or poor communities. With several issues such as conspiracy theories and covid-19 death- related news, contributing to growing concerns among people and in particularly in pregnant women, statistics from the Tema Metro Health Directorate indicate that some 1,200 babies were born in the region during the pandemic, an increase in childbirth.
However, a look at child delivery and access to health care by pregnant women and nursing mothers during the pandemic, shows that some deprived communities in the Tema, Ningo and Ada areas, had mixed figures.
At the Ada District Hospital in the Ada East District of the Greater Accra region, Medical Superintendent, Dr Philip Narh in an interview revealed an increase in child birth during the pandemic. According to him, regular antenatal visits to the facility and delivery amongst expectant mothers shot up by 30 percent as compared to previous years. He said with the District being under developed, there were some fears, expectant or pregnant women would have fallen for the numerous conspiracy theories and thus resorted to self-medication or uncertified birth assistants.
However, that wasn’t the case, stressing the pandemic rather brought some form of challenges to their operations, with regards to deliveries.
He said with the hospital being understaffed, coupled with some logistical constraints and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to work with, nurses had a torrid time attending to pregnant women who visited the facility. “The situation even became worse when some few nurses at the labour ward contracted the virus,”, he added.
He Dr Narh said although things have returned to normalcy, many lessons have been learnt from the pandemic.
The situation was a bit different at the Ningo Health centerCenter, were records showed a drop in antenatal and delivery cases during the pandemic. According to some health officials, pregnant women for fear of contracting the virus, resorted to self-medication and the visit to homes of unlicensed birth attendants for delivery.
Madam Sarah Dugbaki, a nursing mother who gave birth in the house with the aid of unregistered birth assistants, said she was scared of going to deliver at the Prampram Polyclinic following reports that some nurses had contracted the virus.
According to Her, although she managed to visit the Ningo Health Center after delivery, the fear of her newly born baby contracting the virus, had a tolling effect on her health. “Sometimes we hear news of nurses dying from the virus, and so it was hard for me to allow them attend to me during the latter part of my pregnancy,” she said.
At the Manhean Light House Center, popularly known as Manhean Polyclinic in Tema Newtown, also in the Tema Metropolis, checks revealed a slight increase in delivery cases during the pandemic. Here, delivery cases shot up by a marginal 20 percent from a percentage of 12 in 2019, whereby cases of antenatal dropped by a margin of 2 percent. Though health officials were scanty with information, some expectant mothers who were interviewed at the facility revealed, the increase in delivery cases at the facility had to do with the renovation of the maternal and delivery ward, which was done by a philanthropist named Grace Naafofo Odai Kai.
Madam Stella Adjei, a 32 year old 32-year-old pregnant woman who had her first two deliveries at the Tema General Hospital said, Her decision to give birth to her third child at the Manhean Polyclinic had to do with the good reviews of the facility by some friends. She said, unlike in the past where giving birth at the facility was less encouraging, most expectant mothers, are now rushing to deliver at the facility.
Meanwhile, statistics from the Metro Hhealth Directorate also showed a slight decrease in pregnant cases amongst adolescents during the pandemic in the Tema Metropolis. Figures showed some 502 cases of pregnancies were recorded amongst teenagers between the ages of 10 andto 19, as compared to 511 case recorded in 2019. Postnatal cases also dropped from 609 in 2019 to 484 in 2020 w. Whiles cases of abortion also dropped from 85 to 51. Health officials attribute this to the pandemic, which brought about the lockdown period. The Metro Health Director, Dr Sally Quartey said, the pandemic coupled with the lockdown and some conspiracy theories imparted negatively on to active sex, which indirectly saw a reduction in pregnant cases amongst teenagers.
In all, some alarming factors had to do with the dissemination of information from health officials on health issues. The scarcity of information with regards to covid COVID- related issues has become a major concern. This the metro director of health, Dr Sally Quarter attribute to the existing structures within the service. She said issues of covid COVID is regarded as that of a national concern, hence, data and information are more private and classified.