2023: Greater Accra records 170 maternal deaths, 20% due to eclampsia 

Accounts for By Elizabeth Larkwor Baah 

Dodowa, May 23, GNA – The Greater Accra Region recorded 170 maternal deaths in 2023, with 20 per cent due to eclampsia, Dr Akosua Agyeiwaa Owusu-Sarpong, the Regional Director of Health Services, said on Thursday. 

Eclampsia is a condition in which one or more convulsions occur in a pregnant woman suffering from high blood pressure, often followed by coma and posing a threat to the health of mother and baby.  

Pre-eclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in a woman whose blood pressure had been normal. It can lead to serious, even fatal, complications for both mother and baby. 

Dr Owusu-Sarpong was speaking at the 2024 World Pre-Eclampsia Day event, organised by the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA) at the Shai-Osudoku District Hospital. 

It was chaired by Nana Ayerkie Yotsu III, the Queen Mother of Dodowa, to raise pregnant women’s consciousness on the irreversible impact of delay in treating pre-eclampsia, the need to seek immediate treatment, and the importance of getting religious organisations involved in the fight. 

The launch was characterised by a role play and spoken word by the maternity and antenatal clinic (ANC) staff of the hospital, which sought to challenge pregnant women to overcome the disease by listening to health care providers’ advice and avoid perceiving the disease as a spiritual attack. 

Speaking on the theme: “Predict, Prevent, Prevail,” she said pre-eclampsia could lead to severe maternal and foetal complications, including eclampsia, placenta abruption, foetal growth restriction, and premature delivery, which affects three to five per cent of pregnant women worldwide. 

Dr Owusu-Sarpong said the incidence of pre-eclampsia in Sub-Saharan Africa was 13 per cent, being among the leading causes of maternal mortality in Ghana. 

She urged pregnant women in the country to seek immediate help from health facilities instead of using religious organisations as their first point of contact. 

Dr Kennedy Tetteh Coffee Brightson, the Medical Superintendent of Shai-Osudoku District Hospital, said since 2010, the facility had declared a zero tolerance for maternal mortality and had worked hard to achieve that goal. 

He mentioned that pre-eclampsia had been the leading complication of gestational hypertension, leading to many deaths, adding that the district had adopted the strategy of knowing the homes of pregnant women to ensure that every pregnant woman patronising their facility was safe. 

“We have chased them to their homes; we paid staff to visit them and find out how they are doing, and whether they are taking their medicines or not. The result that we’re getting today did not just come on a silver platter; it came because people are committed to ensuring that the pregnant woman is safe,” he said. 

He encouraged pregnant women to stop visiting prayer camps for deliverance when they could visit the hospital for treatment for their welfare and that of the baby. 

Dr Frank Kwasi Nyabe, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the Hospital, said severe headaches, convulsions, blue vision, pain in the abdomen, and abnormal weight gain during pregnancy were some signs of pre-eclampsia. 

He noted that people who are at risk include those with a history of the disease and multiple pregnancies, however, the disease could be well managed when detected early.