Low cost maternal and child health intervention makes strides in northern Ghana

Health professionals train on low resource resuscitation organized by the Leyaata Project

Health professionals train on low resource resuscitation organized by the Leyaata Project

The Leyaata Project aims to reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality in 50 villages in Ghana’s Bole, Kintampo South Districts and Kintampo North and Wenchi Municipalities through two main sets: (1) establishing a volunteer community-based ante-and neonatal care program; and (2) preventing malaria through education, clinic support and distribution of LLINs.

The community-based ante- and neonatal care program launched with training volunteers in January 2012, and has proven extremely effective in reducing neonate mortality in the area. An amendment to the project (June 2013) saw Canada based Ghana Rural Integrated Development-GRID and Northern Empowerment Association-NEA expand this program to 33 new villages, requiring training of 35 additional community based surveillance volunteers(CBSVs). In addition, 33 health professionals from 27 local health facilities participated in low-resource neonatal resuscitation and emergency obstetric training increasing women’s access to skilled care at birth. There is already a demand for similar training in nearby areas.

More women in the area are seeking assisted childbirth: about 64% of deliveries were at a health facility in 2013, compared with 47% in 2011. Equally exciting, neonate mortality has been reduced by two-thirds in the project catchment area with statistics showing 14 deaths per 1000 as at end of 2013. The maternal and child health component of this project is low-cost, sustainable, and highly effective. It has been enthusiastically embraced by communities, local health care professionals and district health representatives. This program is a strong candidate for further study and replication elsewhere.

The malaria prevention aspect of this project will be fully evaluated in 2014 in terms of its success in reducing malaria rates. Thus far project implementers have been impressed with the necessity of equipping local clinics with rapid malaria test kits, as less than half of all patients with suspected malaria actually test positive for the parasite. The rapid malaria test is preventing unnecessary medication, and is providing a more accurate assessment of malaria’s impact in the area. Prevention has also largely centered on community education, working with various local stakeholders to address the conditions that allows the mosquitoes and their vectors to thrive leading to increasing cases of the disease which afflict so many in Africa.

Yaw Adu-Gyamfi is a project coordinator with the Northern Empowerment Association’s Leyaata Project and based in Carpenter, Bole District of Northern Ghana. He can be reached with comments and suggestions via [email protected]

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