July 30, GNA - World Vision Ghana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and
its collaborating partners, has organised the National Citizens’ Hearing, to
assess Ghana’s performance on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The forum afforded NGOs and other civil society organisations (CSOs) the opportunity to dialogue with government agencies to discuss strategies that would enhance women and child’s health.
Mr Alex Segbefia, Minister of Health, said Ghana’s efforts to reduce infant and under-five mortality have experienced some progress, though much still remains to be done to achieve the target of reducing under-five mortality to 40 per 1,000 live births.
He said the improvement in some aspects of health service delivery has a high correlation to the success of the national health insurance scheme, high vaccination coverage, increasing access to effective malaria treatment and prevention among others.
He said these interventions have contributed to reduce under-five mortality, but not at the pace required to have achieved the MDG target.
“Sadly there has been very little progress in reducing neonatal mortality which constitutes almost 40 per cent of deaths among children under the ages of five years,” he said.
Mr Segbefia said recent studies have also indicated that there is a strong relationship between poverty and under-five mortality and these were identified to be higher in rural areas compared to urban areas, and among mothers with no education that those with secondary or higher education.
“This is not to say that we are not redoubling effort to make our indicators enviable,” he said.
He congratulated the World vision Ghana through its “Child Health Now Campaign”, which has contributed and supported in the review and launch of the country’s Newborn Strategy and Action Plan, which is being implemented by the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) implementing agencies.
The Health Minister gave an assurance that the outcome of the programme would be prioritised and given consideration as the country welcomes the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and contextualise and roll over the unmet targets into new goals.
Dr Afisa Zakaria, Director for Policy Planning Monitoring and Evaluation, MOH, said the three delays that often affect maternal and child health care community and cultural practices, financial constraints and transportation to health facilities.
She said a number of interventions being pursued, including the community-based health planning and services compound, which is a programme created to bring healthcare closer to communities, monitor pregnant women, provide them with the requisite knowledge and do deliveries when necessary.
She said aside this intervention; the MOH was working to expand its ambulance services to the districts to ensure that pregnant women gain quick access to health facilities.
Mrs Gifty Appiah, Acting National Director of the World Vision, Ghana, said national CSOs have agreed that health should be one of the top national priorities of the post 2015 agenda and that it is critical for citizens to have a role in defining SDG country priorities.
She said when citizens are well informed; they could hold duty bearers accountable with positive results.
She said it is expected that the recommendations of the forum would ultimately inform Ghana’s priorities for the SDGs.
She said the Organisation recognises the huge advances Ghana has made in health and education, as well as the relentless fight it has launched against poverty during the lifespan of the MDG, but “while recognising and applauding the huge successes, we are not oblivious of our inability to attain some of the goals by the close of… 2015”.
Mrs Appiah said as the declaration on SDGs would be passed in September, the United Nations would assess progress that countries, including Ghana have made, to attain the targets.
She said the World Vision is committed to support the people and government on a sustainable basis towards an improved health status of children, to ensure that the country passes the test for the sake of its children.