Child death in Navrongo in the Upper East Region has reduced from 235 per 1,000 live births to 51.6 per 1,000 live births, between 1996 and 2015, representing 76 per cent decrease.
By this, Navrongo attained the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) four of halving child mortality by two-thirds, as targeted under the MDGs, which came to a close last year.
At the close of the MDGs in 2015, Ghana achieved the MDG one target of reducing poverty and hunger, but recorded slow progress in attaining the goal four (reduction in child mortality) and goal five on halving maternal mortality.
Daniel Azongo, a researcher at the Navrongo Health Research Centre, who disclosed these in Accra on Friday at the OPTIMUNISE Stakeholder conference, attributed the success to the health interventions introduced in the area.
The two-day conference was attended by 38 participants made up of researchers across the INDEPTH field sites, policy makers, health practitioners and researchers funders.
The OPTIMUNISE is an acronym for “Optimising the impact and cost effectiveness of existing child health intervention programmes for vaccines and micronutrients in low income countries,” a European Union and DANIDA funded project that was carried out at Navrongo, Ghana, Bandim in Guinea-Bissau and Nouna in Burkina Faso.
Mr. Azongo enumerated the intervention projects as the Ghana Vitamin “A” Supplementation Trial (1989-92), the Mosquito Bednets Study (1993-96), the Navrongo Community Health and Family Planning Project that gave birth to the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compounds, polio vaccinations as well as the demographic surveillance system that tracked vital statistics in the population.
He said the outcome of the studies carried out in Navrongo had been translated into policies, which have become part of the health care delivery strategies of the Ghana Health Service.
It also came to light that Bandim also achieved 70 per cent reduction in child mortality between 1995-2014, to achieve the MDG four, but Nouna missed out though recorded 54 per cent reduction in child mortality within the same period.
The Coordinator of the OPTIMUNISE project, Professor Peter Aaby, said the initiative had been able to test the real life effects on overall child health of many of the widely used health intervene and established the mechanism for lowering child mortality.
He said the project had shown that the effect of health interventions could not merely be assessed by specific effects, explaining that health interventions also had non-specific effects and it was necessary to assess their effects in real life.
Prof. Aaby said that oral polio vaccine and measles campaigns had helped in bringing down under-five-mortality in Guinea Bissau and Ghana.
Prof. Osman Sankoh, the executive director of INDEPTH, a global network of health and demographic surveillance system, explained that by INDEPTH monitoring new health threats, tracking population changes through fertility rates, death and migration rates and measuring the effects of policy interventions on communities,“We provide information that enables policy makers to make informed decisions and to adapt their programmes to changing conditions” .
Prof. Osman Sankoh said the INDEPTH has 49 field sites including three in Ghana (Navrongo, Dodowa and Kintampo) that observe the life events of over three million people in 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Oceania.
He said INDEPTH had expanded its cope by introducing the Comprehensive Health and Epidemiology Surveillance System to gather more data, especially on the outcome of pregnancies, noting that while under five mortality was declining, babies who die within 28 days of birth was on the increase, which requires intervention to address the problem.
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman