If a mother is infected with STIs, she risks transmitting the infection onto the unborn child. If not treated, women risk a miscarriage, birth defects, early delivery, stillbirth, illnesses, disabilities, or even death of a newborn.
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Antenatal care, commonly referred to as prenatal care is a healthcare preventive that focuses on consistent check-ups by allowing midwives or doctors to prevent and treat any health complications to ensure a safe pregnancy.
Even though there is an available and effective treatment for anyone with STIs, particularly syphilis, more than 10 million people are still infected with this infection across the globe. 90% of all cases of newly infected come from developing countries, especially Ghana.
The Prevalence of Syphilis and the Need for Antenatal Care in Ghana
In Africa, based on records from 2012, the prevalence of syphilis was recoded to be at 0.2%, with Ghana being among one of the most infected with a prevalence of 8.5% in the metropolis, 4.5% in Kumasi and 3.9% in Accra.
Based on the World Bank’s statistical analysis from 2015, the prevalence of syphilis of women attending prenatal care has increased by 1.2% from 2012 and is stated to be at 2.7% in 2015. Compared to the reported 6.1% in 2009, this is a drastic decline.
How Many Women in Ghana Actually Seek Antenatal Care?
Screening and treating pregnant women for a syphilis infection has long been the main focus for doctors. In an effort to stop the transmission of the infection, women have been advised to receive antenatal care.
Based on a survey for the reproductive and sexual health in Ghana, particularly in Accra, of all the women interviewed, 23% reported having or recognizing STI or UTI infections. But only 7% stated seeking preventive care. Due to the low interest in antenatal care, only 53% of Ghanaian women receive proper care during childbirth by a skilled medical professional.
Why Don’t Some Women Get Proper Antenatal Care in Ghana?
Pregnant women in Ghana often face multiple difficulties when it comes to seeking antenatal care. For many women, this is a controversial treatment. Due to cultural limitations and distrust in modernized medicine, women still give birth at home.
But, for those who do want to gain access to antenatal care, they experience multiple issues, some of which are:
- Insufficient funds
- Lack of a female treatment provider
- No permission to get treatment
In Q5 of 2015, 22.7% of women stated they needed more money to receive this treatment, and without an adequate income, these women couldn’t receive the antenatal care they needed.
Another issue was the gender of the treatment provider and permission to get treatment. 19.5% of all pregnant women in Ghana didn’t want to be treated by male treatment providers and preferred females instead, while 4.1% didn’t get permission.
Despite the efforts to help women safely deliver their child, for many the “modernized” version of childbirth has not made much of an impact. With common STIs, such as syphilis still posing as a serious issue for women in Ghana, antenatal care is crucial for safe childbirth and a healthy baby.