The usage of WhatsApp, a social media platform, has contributed to the effort of reducing institutional maternal mortality from 145 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015 to 109 per 100,000 live births in 2016.
Dr. James Duah, Deputy Director of Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, explained that, the reduction occurred within the CHAG network with support from the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
He said as part of the Millennium Accelerated Framework (MAF) project, a WhatsApp group was created for four zones in the country to facilitate the transfer of knowledge, skill and support to and from individuals, especially nurses and doctors on the platform.
The MAF is an initiative put together by development partners in collaboration with the MOH, GHS and other health sector players in 2015. It also seeks to provide funds and technical support to improve the coverage of skilled attendance during pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period.
Dr. Duah said the members on the platform includes doctors, midwifes, public health nurses, emergencies nurses, hospital managers, mentors, implementation committee members and facilitators, who shared vital information in real time.
“Health practitioners had the opportunity to solicit for technical support whenever needed, especially during maternal emergencies situations on the platform and they got answers. The WhatsApp platform has been very instrumental in the attainment of the goals set by the various hospital teams.
“It also allowed mentors to move to facilities to help save emergency situations including repair of ruptured uteruses and preparing blood to save women with postpartum haemorrhages.
“All members needed to do during emergencies was to describe the conditions and symptoms of the patient on the platform and a specialist in that field will give direction as to how to address the situation without cost,” he explained.
Dr. Duah added that the WhatsApp platform helped representatives at the referral hospitals to receive information of emergency referral cases and prepare adequately to receive the patient seamlessly and thus reduced maternal avoidable deaths.
On telephone network coverage challenges, he said, steps were taken to test all the networks to ascertain those with the strongest signal in every area to ensure that all members were on board.