Teenage Maternal Mortality


August 10, 2013  |  By Mansura Adam, Ghana

Teenage Maternal Mortality

Maternal mortality refers to the death of a woman during childbirth. It is sadly a common problem concerning the women of Ghana and especially teenagers. In Ghana, one woman in 66 has a chance of dying during childbirth.

It has been said that complications from pregnancy and during delivery are the leading cause of death among girls aged 15-19 in Ghana. Teenagers are more vulnerable to complications from pregnancy and childbirth as compared to adults. This is because their bodies are not well matured to house a baby and to deliver. Poverty also plays a big part. For many is it a long walk to the nearest health clinic or hospital and without money you don’t get the care you need. However, by practicing indiscriminate sex in order to satisfy their curiosity, teenagers are disregarding the implications it has on their lives.

Many teenage girls cannot afford the health care required and as such do not see a proper midwife or doctor during their pregnancy. Many do not know about contraceptives or family planning due to a lack of education. As a result, many teenagers turn to abortion when they fall pregnant by accident. Ghana is one of the few African countries where abortion is legal and is done so by a professional. However, it is estimated that only around four percent of the population is aware of this.

In an interview with Miss Eva, a teenage mother, she talked about her experience during her pregnancy and childbirth. She said, “It was the worst moment in my life when I found out I was pregnant. My parents turned their backs on me. I decided to abort my baby after some advice from friends. But it was unsuccessful and I had to be rushed to the hospital after suffering from extreme pain and bleeding.’ Although Miss Eva and her baby were saved by doctors, she was not able to give birth naturally due to the damage to her body from the blotched abortion. She continued, “In the end luck was on my side and I had a successful caesarian. I had a beautiful baby boy. Now I am very glad the abortion didn’t work but it is important that we get proper education in our schools about sex and how to avoid early pregnancy."

 Like Miss Eva, a lot of teenagers in Ghana turn to unsafe abortions when they are pregnant out of frustration. Tragically a lot of them die as a result. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are nearly 3 million unsafe or attempted abortions among teenagers worldwide each year. It is estimated in Ghana that 600,000 women die each year because of blotched or unsafe abortions.

The Ghanaian government is doing tremendously well with regards to maternal mortality but a lot more needs to be done. There must be compulsory sex education in schools and students must be taught about family planning and contraceptives. It is essential teenagers are taught how to be responsible for their sex lives. 

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