58 Bongo communities hold mother, child durbars

Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu,Health Minister

Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu,Health Minister

About 58 community durbars aimed at promoting exclusive breastfeeding and to discourage negative cultural practices that affect Mother and Child Health (MCH), have been organised in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region.

Some of the communities included   the Sanabisi, Zorku Kadare, Zorku Kanga,   Azorko-bisisi, Adaboya, Lembisi, Akanseinga, Azuwobgo, Amanga.

The separate   durbars  which attracted chiefs, women groups, husbands and their wives ,  health workers, assembly members , opinion leaders and the youth were organised  by   the Integrated Youth Needs and Welfare (INTYON), a non-governmental organisation(NGO)  under the  Mother Baby Friendly Health Initiative (MBFHI) Project.

The NGO in partnership with the Ghana Health Service (GHS), with financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have been implementing the project in 100 communities in the district for some time now and was expected to end this year.

It empowers the communities to employ advocacy, drama and focus group discussions to ensure increase demand for ante-natal and post-natal services, early initiation to breast feeding within 30 minutes after birth, exclusive breastfeeding and promoting basic new-born care.

The community durbars provided platforms for some selected members in the communities     who acted dramas after focus group discussions, emphasising the need of promoting skilful   delivery in the health facilities instead of   allowing pregnant women to deliver at homes by non-health professionals.

The dramas and focus group discussions depicted how important it was for men to accompany their pregnant wives to deliver at health facilities instead of allowing them alone to visit health facilities for delivery

The Chief of Sanabisi,  NabaNyabAbugre,   who  chaired  one  of the occasions on Saturday at the Sanabisi  community on Saturday, said it was high time communities abandoned  outmoded and  harmful  cultural practices which were very detrimental to the  health of  mothers and children.

He said that ‘health facilities were established to help community members and it was proper for community members to make good use of the facilities provided in the community.

“At this 21st century there are no excuses now for a women to be allowed to give birth at home as more facilities are now closer to our communities. Many pregnant women who give   birth at home often experience a lot of health complications which could even lead to the death of either the mother or the baby.  There is therefore the urgent need for men to be encouraged to support and accompany pregnant women to the health facilities to deliver as depicted in the drama by the community members,” the chief stressed.

The Queen Mother of Sanabisi, NmaAgebaseAkurigo,    attributed the failure of many men accompanying their wives who pregnant to deliver at health facilities to stigmatisation by some the community members.

“The only challenge is that most men do not accompany women to the health facilities.  Some are shy and always complain that their colleague men will tease them should they see them with their wives going to the health facility. This  is affecting most pregnant women in labour as the mothers-in-law are the only ones who often  accompany them to the health facilities to deliver and  that is why some end up giving birth on the way or even at home,” the Queen Mother revealed.

She also   called pregnant women to politely encourage their husbands to follow them to the health facilities to deliver and stressed that it takes time for a change to happen.

The Executive Director of INTYON, Chief Issah Ibrahim, commended the various traditional rulers and Queen mothers, Assembly members and staff of the GHS for their active involvement in the implementation of the project.

He called on them to continue to support the sustainability plans put up by his outfit and the GHS to help maintain and improve upon the gains chalked after the implementation of the project.

He attributed the high ante-natal and post-natal visits of women to health facilities in the district to the interventions of the project and indicated that there had also been significant reduction in maternal and infant deaths in the area.

FROM SAMUEL AKAPULE, SANABISI

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