By Ahedor Jessica
The 2018 Atlas for African Health Statistics published by the World Health Organization WHO, World Bank, UNICEF and others showed that Ghana had a lot of work to do to reach the SDG target on Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition, MCHN.
According to the report, the country in 2015 had a maternal mortality ratio of 319 deaths per 100,000 live births. If the current rate of reduction is maintain, the country is bound to reach a ratio of 210 per 100,000 live births in 2030 against the SDG target of 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Meanwhile, under-five mortality in Ghana in 2015 estimated to have a rate of 61 deaths per 1,000 live births. Meaning at the current pace, Ghana could only reach 36.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2030 against the target of 25 deaths per 1,000 live births.
This, the WHO Country Representative in Ghana, Dr Owen Kaluwa said it is clear that doing business as usual will not lead to the achievement of the SDGs for MCHN targets by 2030, and called for fast-tracked action and collective work, to speed up the implementation of programs and interventions. Currently, maternal mortality remained unacceptably high, with 830 women globally, dying daily from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. He added even though progress has been made in addressing MCHN over the years, pragmatic measures are to be taken both globally and on the Africa Region.
Dr Kaluwa who was speaking at the opening of the second annual MCHN, in Accra under the theme: “Enhancing Integrated Reproductive Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Nutrition to Accelerate the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals”. He stated in 2017 alone, over six million children and young adolescents died, mostly from preventable cause of diseases. He emphasized the need for Ghana, to process set up the right stage and environment to scale-up interventions that are ongoing to address the issue. Citing the National Health Sector Medium Term Development Plan, highlighted MCHN as a priority, and the adoption of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as overreaching health sector initiatives to enhance progress.
He pledged the WHO’s commitment to support Ghana and all stakeholders to improve the health of Ghanaians .However the Director General of Health Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, said Ghana over the years has sustained efforts at reducing mortality rate among women and children through the implementation of different programs driven by global and national evidence, amidst dwindling donor funding. He explain the Service recorded its lowest maternal mortality rate at the end of 2018, with a prevalence of 128.4 deaths per 100,000 live births as against 144.7 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017, and since then, stakeholders have been working hard to ensure “Zero Tolerance for Maternal Deaths,” through a host of initiatives and programs.
Example of such programs includes rolling out of the new Combined Maternal and Child Health Record Book in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), to improve the vital registration system in the country, and again, the implementation of the Girls Iron-Folate Tablet Supplementation Program to reduce anemia among adolescent girls. The rest are the creation of E-learning platforms for capacity building of health professionals, the introduction of a task shifting for maternal health services, to complement the work of the regular staff. In addition, the improvement in the supply chain through the Last Mile Distribution System, to deliver medical consumables such as blood products and vaccines to hard-to-reach areas using the Drone technology.
The Conference, was organized by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in collaboration with its development partners, to discuss emerging issues affecting maternal and child health, and low access and utilization of family planning services; quality care; rise in non-communicable diseases as a cause of death, and early childhood development initiatives.