She said Ghana’s quest to achieve maternal mortality target of 185 per 100,000 live births as prescribed by the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) would be a mirage if the current inadequate number of midwives to serve the country at the district, regional and tertiary levels continued to exist.
Ms Ayittey said this when delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of the Presbyterian Midwifery Training School at Dormaa-Ahenkro in the Brong-Ahafo Region.
It was established two years ago by the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG) to provide further training for practicing nurses in midwifery.
The Minister of Health said maternal mortality rate reduced from 740 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 503 per 100,000 live births in 2005 and then to 451 per 100,000 live births in 2008 and this pre-supposes a figure of 340 per 100,000 live births by 2015.
This is far above the United Nations MDG target of 185 per 100,000 live births.
Ms Ayittey said Ghana was faced with a severe shortage of midwives, because with the age of those in practice estimated at 54 years, it meant that about 90 per cent of midwives would retire from active service within the next six years.
“To reverse this trend the Ministry has introduced the Diploma Midwifery Programme as a direct entry programme aimed at developing young but well trained midwives to help improve the midwifery staffing situation in the country,“ she said.
Ms Ayittey said the Ministry welcomed the initiative of the PCG and was prepared to support the effort by posting qualified tutors to the school.
She appealed to the midwifery trainees to accept posting to rural areas where their services would be required and expressed appreciation to the church for initiating the school and the Dormaa Traditional Council for providing the land.
Miss Hilda Mary Commey, Principal of the school, said with 110 students, lecture hall, skills laboratory and an ultra-modern computer laboratory had only two permanent tutors.
She said the school lacked enough accommodation and means of transport for effective and efficient operations.
Barima Oppong Yaw Buabasa, Gyaasehene of Dormaa Traditional Area, commended the cordial relationship between the Council and the PCG and pledged that other avenues would be explored to enhance the relationship.