Story: Zainabu Issah
Proper management of labour by skilled personnel using a partograph, is key to the appropriate prevention and treatment of prolonged labour and its complications. A partograph is a simple chart for recording information about the progress of labour and the condition of a woman and her baby during labour.
Following the recommendation of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Maternal and Neonatal Health (MNH) Programme promotes the use of the partograph to improve the management of labour and to support decision-making regarding interventions. When used appropriately, the partograph helps providers identify prolonged labour and know when to take appropriate actions.
Prolonged labour is a leading cause of death among mothers and new-borns and it is most likely to occur if a woman’s uterus does not contract sufficiently due to various factors. If her labour does not progress normally, the woman may experience serious complications such as obstructed labour, dehydration, exhaustion, or rupture of the uterus. Prolonged labour may also contribute to maternal infection or haemorrhage and may also cause neonatal infection.
Speaking at the second in a series of Nana Yaa Memorial Trust seminars for registered midwives from the various health services in the Greater Accra Region in Accra, health experts called for the efficient use of the partograph as a step in reducing child and maternal mortality.
The seminar was aimed at promoting quality reproductive health by encouraging health workers to use life-saving interventions to reduce the high maternal mortality rates in Ghana.
Speaking at the seminar, Dr Nelson Damale, a consultant obstetrician at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, said the yearly updates and the reshuffling of midwives posed a challenge to the use of the partograph as new midwives had to learn how to use the tool for successful delivery.
He said the annual delivery peaks experienced in April, May and September also posed a challenge as the increase in the workload did not allow for the quality monitoring of patients.
He explained that the latent phase of labour required quality and intensive monitoring for early detection and intervention but the workload at the various health facilities and the number of midwives available, made this impossible.
He said the partograph was an easy, simple tool to use in effective monitoring of labour but there was the need to promote its use and also find practical solutions to challenges militating against its use.
In her presentation, Dr Jemima Dennis-Antwi, Regional Advisor, International Conference of Midwives (ICM) for Anglophone Africa, said the safety of the mother and child during delivery depended on midwives and therefore it was important for midwives to apply all knowledge and tools for a safe and successful delivery.
She said children born in a country with sufficient and competently trained midwives, nurses and doctors were five times likely to reach the age of five than those born in countries where such facilities and personnel were lacking.
She therfore urged the midwives to overcome the obstacles that faced them and do well in providing the care they offered to pregnant women and their unborn babies.
As part of its ongoing advocacy programmes, the Nana Yaa Memorial Trust is holding seminars to sensitise the public, especially pregnant women and their families to the importance of skilled delivery and the need for expectant mothers to deliver at a health facility so that emergency measures could be put in place for the efficient management of any complication,