Mr Benjamin Kunbuor, Deputy Minister of Health, on Thursday launched this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s National Child Health Promotion Week and the revised Child Health Records at Takoradi.
The week which is under the theme: “Follow Your Child’s Growth – Use Your Child Health Records” would be celebrated from May 4 to 8, 2009.
Mr Kunbuor said this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s celebration would be the sixth since its inception in 2004 adding that if children were brought up in good health, the nation could be assured of a healthy and formidable workforce ready to contribute to development.
He said the Ministry of Health through the Ghana Health Service (GHS) had taken steps to make available the right mix of essential and curative services for the optimal growth and development of children during the critical years of their lives.
Mr Kunbuor said the theme of the celebration called on families, communities, health care professionals and other stakeholders to show interest in the growth and development of children.
He said “It is our collective responsibility to ensure that these young ones received the necessary services at the right time in their livesÃ¢â‚¬Â¦”
Mr Kunbuor said the Child Health Records booklet popularly known as the “Weighing Card” was a useful tool specially designed to assist in that direction.
He said the institution of the week became necessary because after several years of the implementation of comprehensive child health policies and interventions, many children still died from preventable causes.
Mr Kunbuor was happy that the week was beginning to yield positive results because preliminary findings of the 2008 Demographic and Health Survey recorded a decline in the under-five and infant mortality rates.
He said, “we are, therefore, convinced of the benefits of such an approach to supplement our routine services” and added that during the week services topic be delivered would include immunization, vitamin A supplementation, re-treatment of insecticide treated nets, growth monitoring and birth registration.
He urged parents to take advantage of the week and avail their wards to benefit from these essential services to prevent disease, disability and premature death of children.
Mr Kunbuor said the revised Child Health Record booklet was for use by service providers and care-givers and was now an attractive item designed to inform and educate people.
He added that it graphically presents essential information on the growth of young children and that the information provided in the booklet covered both preventive and curative aspects of child health saying one major item in it is the adoption of new growth standards recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Mr Kunbuor said with the right environment the Ghanaian child could compare favourably with those of United States, Norway, Oman and Brazil which together with Ghana took part in the collation of data for the WHO.
He said GhanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s malnutrition level was high saying a third of children below the age of five were chronically malnourished and as a result, the adoption of the new standards were appropriate since they make provision for differences in the growth patterns of male and female children.
Mr Kunbuor said other efforts to complement this move were the training and retraining of practitioners as well as the provision of essential equipment to facilitate growth monitoring.
Ms Betty Bosomtwi-Sam, Deputy Western Regional Minister, said child health services were always available free of charge at health facilities and advised parents to take advantage for the government to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
She urged pregnant women to utilize ante-natal and post natal services to reduce child and infant mortality rates and called for support for child health services in the districts.
Dr Isabella Sagoe-Moses, National Child Health Coordinator of the GHS, said the Child Health booklet would help health workers to track how well children were growing and what services each individual child needed.
She said while infant and young child feeding were pivotal to optimal child growth and development, the child also needed protection against diseases such as tuberculosis, polio, measles, yellow fever, diphtheria and other preventable diseases.
She said attendance at child welfare clinics should be encouraged from birth till five years and the child health records should be kept safe and consulted regularly to raise healthy children.