The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has called for closer collaboration among the health institutions in West Africa to promote research and information sharing to help reduce newborn, maternal and adolescent deaths in the Sub-Region.
For instance, he said, it was only Cape Verde which had met the Sustainable Development Goal target of 25 per 1000 live births.
Mr Agyeman-Manu made the call at the opening of a two-day international workshop in Accra yesterday.
The workshop was to discuss measures and strategies to promote the health of children, women and adolescent in the Sub-Region.
The workshop being attended by 50 health experts and policymakers is under the “Catalysing Leadership to Improve Health Outcomes for Women in West Africa” project.
It was funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada, and implemented by the West African Health Organisations and Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights and Women, Media and Change and the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
The Minister said available statistics from the 2017 Ghana Maternal Health Survey suggested that maternal mortality ratio in Ghana declined from 320 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015 to 310 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017.
He said like the rest of the sub-region, despite major and rapid progress, Ghana also failed to reach its Millennium Development Goal 5 to reduce maternal deaths to 190 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said despite the failure, the Ministry had implemented “Free Maternal Health Policy” under the National Health Insurance Scheme to expand access to maternal health services for women of childbearing age.
“We have also taken concrete steps to strengthen our Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) to further sustain our current national immunisation coverage ratio of 99.4 per cent to enhance the health and well-being of all our new born, infants and immunisation eligible children in Ghana,” he added.
The Caretaker Minister of the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, Ms Cecilia Abena Dapaah, said as a Ministry mandated to ensure gender equality, they were committed to promoting the welfare and protection of children and empowering the vulnerable in the society.
She said the ministry had developed a five-year National Gender Policy which sought to mainstream gender equality concerns into the national development process.
“The policy document is currently being reviewed and updated, nonetheless, stakeholders are expected to take strategic policy actions as directed by the overarching national policy to address bottlenecks and barriers as well as critical issues in various sectors concerning inequalities,” she said.
She added that, as part of the Government’s efforts to ensure a coordinated response in addressing adolescent pregnancies in Ghana, the Ministry had also developed a 5-Year Strategic Plan to address Adolescent Pregnancies in Ghana together with a Strategic Implementation Plan, which was periodically assessed by stakeholders to identify areas where interventions must be strengthened or modified.
The Director General of the West African Health Organisations, Professor Stanley Okolo, in his remarks said the conference would help provide evidence-based data for planning and decision making.
He also said the programme would provide a platform for knowledge sharing on health issues in the Sub-Region.
BY KINGSLEY ASARE