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40 stakeholders build capacity to tackle health challenges in West Africa

In a bid to enhance health policy and systems as well as Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (MNCAH) Research in the West African sub-region, a one-week capacity building programme for key stakeholders in health sector kicked off in Accra yesterday.

Dubbed the ‘Mid-year School’ (MYS), the programme aims at equipping participants with skills in leadership, public policy change, communication and implementation of evidence-based advocacy in MNCAH to improve health outcomes in the area.

About 40 participants from Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Senegal and host country Ghana are undertaking the course which is the first in a two-year project to effect meaningful change in the health systems of countries particularly for women, newborn, child and adolescent wellbeing.

Organised by the Consortium for Mothers, Children, Adolescent and Health Policy and Systems Strengthening (COMCAHPSS) in partnership with International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and other non-governmental organisations, this year’s MYS is on the theme, ‘Health Policy Systems and Women, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Wellbeing.’

At a brief opening ceremony, Dr Abraham Hodgson, Director of Research and Development of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), highlighted the relevance of research in informing policy making.

To him, MNCAH remained a critical area in the healthcare delivery chain and it was imperative that in-depth research and capacity building was sustained to influence positive change.

“This school is timely as it fits into the agenda of achieving universal health coverage which as a country we are striving to achieve and this is a step in advancing efforts as a sub-region,” he said.

In giving an overview, Principal Investigator of COMCAHPPS, Dr Irene Agyapong pointed out that the two-year project hopes to encourage ‘teamwork’ in promoting country health systems rather than isolated ways of doing things.

She explained that by the end of the entire period, “each country team will be expected to identify a health policy and systems issues affecting women, newborn, child and adolescent wellbeing to develop and implement interventions to advocate and support positive policy change and implementation.”

Dr John Williams, Director of the Dodowa Health Research which plays host to the COMCAHPPS Secretariat in Ghana, lauded the aspects of mentorship and coaching in the two-year project which he believed was necessary to ensure sustainability long after the project ends.

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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