They said the availability of such funding would also enhance training and encourage young researchers to ask relevant questions that would ensure striking outcomes for publication in international scientific journals.
Professor Richard Adanu, the Dean of the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Legon, at a symposium on the “Future of Maternal Health Research in Ghana”, in Accra on Friday, said although there has been some progress on maternal health, more could be achieved through improved research.
He explained that the research community over the past years had relied on foreign partners to undertake studies that did not necessarily follow the national agenda, or of direct relevance to the needs of the country, hence many health problems had remained unresolved.
“We need to set a Ghanaian agenda that would be relevant to solving our own health challenges,” adding that, this would be possible if Government and other local sources devoted funds for research activities that would resolve maternal health challenges “within our own context,” he said.
Dr Ali Samba, the Head of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, said currently there is very little funding from the various institutions, such as the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health for scientific researches, even though there was a lot to be done in the area of maternal health.
He said over the years, very little relevant research has been done on maternal health in Ghana; “all we did was depending on data from our collaborators outside. We did not just take part in these studies, we also conducted our own investigations to find out whatever was coming from outside was working in our local context or not”.
He however said, with their own researches, they have been able to inform their collaborators of the challenges incurred from such foreign-based research outcomes.
Dr Samba explained that these were some of the backgrounds that had informed the present demand and call for local mobilisation of sustainable funding to contextualise research on maternal health service.
He mentioned one key area that needed enhanced research – to reduce bleeding after delivery (post-partum haemorrhage), and once this was achieved there would be much progress in maternal health outcomes.
He stated that when it comes to research in maternal health, it was not just about huge sums of money, but “we can do little things in our own ways”.
Dr Samba said as a country “we need to set our priorities very right and be firm on achieving them,” so as to inform all partners about the policy direction on maternal health, so as to achieve a systematic reduction morbidity and mortality, and accelerate the progress towards the achievement of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals.
He said Ghana’s health system provided varied support to pregnant women, citing the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) that covered maternity services, giving the assurance of great hope to future progress in maternal health.
He noted that because of the NHIS, pregnant women could walk in to any health facility, to have their deliveries free and safely, and urged all pregnant women to register with the NHIS.
He further advocated for enhanced family planning services and contraceptive usage especially among the youth, to prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions, which were the major causes of maternal mortality.
Dr Mercy Nuamah, a Research Fellow with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, spoke about caesarean sessions, saying the procedure was a life-saving method to safeguard the health of both mother and child, and not a fashion as was being currently perceived by the youth.
She argued that, “with scientists, we want to quantify that yes it has its own complications, so before we decide to do any caesarean session, there must be a reason for it”.
She advised all pregnant women to visit their antenatal clinics for the necessary care, education and support so as to prevent complications that may later rob them of either their lives, that of their children or their health.