The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) with funding support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has handed over six constructed Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)facilities to six health centres in the Upper East Region at the cost of GH¢662, 653.10.
The construction of the projects which were facilitated by the Regional Directorate of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) are located at the Bongo-Soe and Anafobisi communities in the Bongo District, China and Kayoro communities in the Kassena-Nankana West District and Sumbrungu and Serigu in the Bolgatanga Municipality.
Each of the beneficiary health facility is installed with mechanised water systems, Sanitation and Hygiene facilities including washrooms for pregnant women who visit the facilities to deliver.
Speaking at one of the handing over ceremonies at the Bongo-Soe Community on Friday, the Regional Director of the Ghana Health Services, Dr Winfred Ofosu, explained that the provision of the WASH facilities was to help improve upon the implementation of the Mother Baby Friendly Health Initiative (MBFHI) facility project in the region which is also being supported with funding from the above mentioned development partners.
He explained that the MBFHI project which is in its third year and being piloted in the Bolgatanga and Bawku municipalities, and the Bongo and Kassena-Nankana West districts, was aimed at advocating early breastfeeding within 30 minutes after birth, promoting exclusive breastfeeding and ensuring the well-being of lactating mothers and their babies as well as helping to ensure pregnant women attend antenatal care services and to deliver at health facilities by skillful midwives.
Dr Ofosu said maternal mortality rate in the region had reduced drastically across the operational districts and the survival rate of newly born babies also improved.
He cited for instance that the Bongo District recorded zero maternal mortality deaths since 2017 and other districts like Bolgatanga also seen some reduction in maternal mortality rate and improvement of the survival rate of mothers and babies.
“The MBFHI has encouraged more pregnant and lactating mothers to visit health facilities at all times and this has led to the reduction in the maternal mortality rate and improvement of health of mothers and children,” he stressed.
Dr Ofosu who mentioned that one of the major problems confronting efficient health delivery systems in the region was the lack of WASH facilities particularly water in the health facilities, said the situation was very worrisome when it came to delivery.
The Regional Director of the CWSA, Mr John Aduakye, stated that when his outfit was tasked by UNICEF to conduct a survey on the WASH facilities situation in the region, it was realised that most of the health facilities including the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital did not have WASH facilities particularly water.
The Upper East Regional Minister, Mrs Paulina Patience Abayage, commended the development partners for the support and appealed for more support for other health facilities in the region which lacked WASH facilities.
The UNICEF Country’s Representative to Ghana, Ms Anne-Caire Dufay, stressed that WASH facilities were very critical to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and noted, “this informed the decision of UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to provide the support.”
“Apart from the contributions of WASH facilities to the attainment of the SDGs, children also have the right to good health and the provision of the WASH facilities will help achieve that result,” she stressed.
FROM SAMUEL AKAPULE, BONGO-SOE