At least seven expectant mothers as well as a newborn baby, have been killed by floods battering northern Ghana in the last couple of weeks.
Many of the casualties were recorded in Nangruma, Namoor both in the Mamprugu Moagduri District, while the rest happened in hard-to-reach communities in the Zabzugu District also in the Northern Region.
In most of the cases, the women lost their lives either on their way to seek medical care or were returning home after visiting the health centres where they gave birth.
The area is called ‘overseas’ because it is completely cut off from other regions where the rains set in.
Spillage of the Bagre dam by Burkinabe authorities compounded by heavy rains in the north, have seen sudden rise the level of water bodies in the area rendering roads and river impassable.
Two weeks ago, at Nangruma, a woman lost her 21-week pregnancy in an extremely sad situation. She had complained of abdominal pain and had to be sent to a health facility in a nearby of Yizesi but they needed to cross a tributary of the River Sissili.
A group of young men had to carry shoulder high the motorbike conveying the pregnant lady to the other side of the stream and later carry the 24-year-old Doris Hafiz who was in pain, on a cane chair to cross the stream. The water was at chest level.
After they managed to cross the river, Doris suffered a stillbirth even before they got to the clinic. A video of the distressing situation went viral on social media and has caused a national outrage.
In a similar situation, Joy News’ Hasmin Mohammed reported on the Super Morning Show Monday, that a woman in labour at Namoo lost consciousness after she fell off a motorbike transporting her to a hospital. She got to the facility and died later together with her unborn baby, Hashmin reported.
This was after an ambulance called to transport her failed to show up because of the poor road network.
Another woman who walked several miles to deliver at a health facility was swept away by the flood waters together with her newborn. In that accident, an ambulance had been called but could get to the location because of the high water levels.
Listen to Hashmin’s report
There are also reports in which several people have gone missing after they attempted to wade through the rising waters, Myjoyonline.com has learnt. One of them is said to be a young lady who had been awarded a scholarship to study abroad. Her family if distraught.
Many of the communities affected do not have health facilities or a single doctor. In cases of emergency they have to travel between two to three hours to Fumbisi or Sandema, both in the Upper East Region or to Walewale in the West Mamprusi district.
A number of road projects have been left uncompleted after delays in paying the contractors to enable them to finish work
The Member of Parliament for Yagaba/Kubori, Tanko Ibrahim Rauf, is blaming the situation on the Assembly’s approach towards the completion of a CHPS compound project started in 2015.
According to him, although funding for completion of the project was released sometime in 2015, the project is yet to be completed and handed over to the Ghana Health Service to operate.
Rauf signalled his intention to hold a stakeholder engagement in the coming days to rally support for the project.
Listen to the MP
Meanwhile, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service has summoned the regional director to produce a comprehensive report on all uncompleted health facilities in the area.
Speaking on the Super Morning Show, Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare who is on a tour of health facilities in the three regions of the north- Northern, Upper East and Upper West- described the deaths as “very unfortunate”.
“These are all developmental issues; I believe that a woman in this condition should not be transported on motorbikes,” he told the host of the Super Morning Show, Daniel Dadzie, proposing a regime where patients should be charged for pre-hospital care as a step towards improving emergencies.
“I believe that there should be a way of sustaining national ambulance service or pre-hospital care…when an ambulance picks any emergency system they should be reimbursed. Going forward, we should have the private sector involved in the process of pre-hospital care to rehabilitation,” he argued.