Ghana risk missing SDG 3 if less attention is given to new-borns- Health Expert

Ghana’s failure to meet the MDG set targets on maternal and child health had been blamed on her inability to improve on the quality of care around the time of delivery and immediate post partum period.

At a review meeting to improve maternal health outcomes in Bolgatanga, it was observed that although the country made some modest gains in reducing under 5 mortality, much attention was not given to the new-borns because most of them died before their first week of life.

The Deputy Upper East Regional Director of Nursing Services in charge of Public Health, Dr Rofina Asuru maintained that until appropriate strategies are adopted to avoid needless deaths among new-borns, the country’s quest to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3 will still be a mirage.

The meeting was to review the progress made in the Mother Baby Friendly Health Facility Initiative, MBFHI, spearheaded by the GHS with funding from the UNICEF.

Ghana missed out in the MDGs on maternal and infant mortality due to lack of attention on new-borns.

As a measure to reverse the trend, the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Services in July 2014 came out with the Newborn Strategy and Action Plan detailing evidence-based cost effective interventions to improve survival.

Inspite of this laudable initiative, maternal mortality ratio and death among new-borns did not witness any considerable decline.

The Mother Baby Child Friendly Health Facility Initiative, MBFHI was later considered another key intervention that seeks to improve facility-based quality care for mothers and new-borns and to increase optimal breastfeeding practices among other set objectives.

The MBFHI, is a quality improvement initiative supported by UNICEF through the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation to improve the health of mothers and babies in Ghana, Tanzania and Bangladesh.

In Ghana, the project is being piloted in four implementing districts namely Bawku Municipal, Bolga Municipal, Bongo and Kassena-Nankana West.

Speaking to Radio Ghana, the Deputy Upper East Regional Director of Nursing Services in charge of Public Health, Dr Rofina Asuru explained that the MBFHI review meeting was to beef up the level of commitment among implementers and to enforce healthy competition for lessons to be drawn on the gains made.

She said since the project began in the last quarter of 2015 at the regional level, some progress has been made.

The review meeting brought together stakeholders in the area of maternal health including public health nurses, midwives, physician assistants, nutrition officers and disease control officers among others.

They were implored to double up their effort in terms of performance to improve mother and newborn survival by showing stronger commitment to provoke its sustainability.

A Health Specialist at UNICEF with focus on Maternal Newborn Care, Dr Priscilla Wobil, said, depending on the availability of funding, UNICEF is prepared to scale up the program after its end-line in 2018, but before that systems have been put in place so even if UNICEF is not able to offer full support, the health systems will be able to sustain the progress made.

The MBFHI as a flagship program geared at improving the quality of care is currently taking place in 21 health facilities.