Maternal and Child Health Issues Globally
The risk for maternal death (during pregnancy or childbirth) in sub-Saharan Africa is 175 times higher than in developed countries, and risk for pregnancy-related illnesses and negative consequences after birth is even higher. Poverty, maternal health, and outcomes for the child are all interconnected. Neonatal deaths in developing countries account for 98% of worldwide yearly neonatal deaths. Neonatal mortality rate represents 60 per cent of infant mortality rate. 13.4% of children under five years of age are moderately or severely underweight and 7% of all children aged 6- 59 months are anaemic. Stagnation of child and maternal mortality decline have been blamed on inadequate health policies or poor funding and implementation of existing policies, leading to poor service delivery and health staff behaviour, procurement failures, limited access of vulnerable communities to health services, poor nutrition, hygiene and sanitation practices among others.
Although the under-five mortality rate (U5MR) has steadily declined in Ghana, the rate still remains unacceptably high. The results of the 2011 MICS (Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey) indicate that infant and under-five mortality rates are still high, 53 deaths per 1,000 live births and 82 deaths per 1,000 live births respectively. The value for mortality rate, neonatal (per 1,000 live births) in Ghana was 29.50 as of 2011. Over the past 21 years this indicator reached a maximum value of 38.10 in 1990 and a minimum value of 29.50 in 2011. Furthermore, regional disparities between the north and south of the country, partly due to poverty and to lack of, and poor access to services, are a cause for concern. In northern Ghana, U5MR is three times as high as in the capital region. Most of childhood deaths are caused by preventable or treatable health conditions: the main causes of childhood deaths are malaria (26%), pneumonia (18%), diarrhea (18%), and neonatal factors (38%). Recent analyses based on state-of-the-art epidemiological evidence show that in Ghana, 40% of all deaths that occur before the age of five are due directly and indirectly to under nutrition, making it the single most important cause of child mortality. This is not only a silent killer, but an emergency that calls for action by all government bodies, Civil Society Organizations, media, religious leaders but to mention a few.
In the words of Tamar Manuelyan Atinc, Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank, “Maternal deaths are both caused by poverty and are a cause of it. The costs of childbirth can quickly exhaust a family’s income, bringing with it even more financial hardship.”
Five years therefore should not be the lifespan of children in a society where more causes of deaths are easily prevented. Recent report from UNICEF report reveals that 1out of twelve children dies before reaching age five in Ghana. The country will not only wipe out a generation of future leaders, but this will gradually affect the work force and socio- economic development of the nation. Improving maternal health is the 5th of the 8 United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, targeting a reduction in the number of women dying during pregnancy and childbirth by three quarters by 2015, notably by increasing the usage of skilled birth attendants. The current decline of maternal deaths is only half of what is necessary to achieve this goal, and in several regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, and particularly Ghana, the maternal mortality rate is actually decreasing but slowly. Decreasing the rates of maternal mortality and morbidity in developing countries is important because poor maternal health is both an indicator and a cause of extreme poverty.
World Vision Child Health Now Campaign
Child Health Now (CHN) is World Vision’s five-year global campaign launched in 2009 to see an end to the more than six million deaths of children under five that are preventable. It aims to attract and increase global attention on the urgent need to end preventable deaths of children under five around the world. It is a global advocacy action calling on governments and supporters to play their part in a global movement that ensures children’s access to nutritious food, clean water, and life-saving health services.
The goal of the campaign in Ghana is to contribute to a sustained reduction in maternal and under 5 child mortality rate in line with MDG 4 and 5 through the promotion of government policy dialogue and citizens empowerment by 2015.
The expected results are:
· Increased availability of essential health services and commodities.
·Increased government spending on health in line with Abuja declaration by 2015
·Increased access to quality nutrition and health care for mothers and children in the most vulnerable communities
The national launch of the campaign in January 2014 by the First Lady, her Excellency, Lordina Mahama paves the way for a vigorous advocacy drive to mobilise solutions to address the gaps in realising quality child and maternal health in Ghana. This focused advocacy initiative is a child centred campaign which seeks to promote the survival, growth and development of all children in Ghana with an overall objective of reducing child mortality by two thirds by 2015.
That is why World Vision is asking you to join a global movement to help make this happen. We need all to come together and take action to call on world leaders to ensure children everywhere can celebrate their fifth birthday and even beyond.
The government of Ghana has signed some international health policies which all aim at reducing infant and child mortality. The first of these is the commitment made in Abuja (Abuja Declaration) to increase the health budget to 15% and also strengthen the free maternal health care policy. The country (Ghana) also signed onto the Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) policy which was initiated by the Secretary General of the UN in 2010, EWEC is a global strategy for women’s and children’s health that focuses on mobilizing and intensifying international and national action by governments, multilaterals, the private sector and civil society, to address the major health challenges facing women and children around the world, with the aim to save 16 million lives globally by 2015.
The health of women and children is critically important to almost every area of human development and progress, and directly impacts a country’s success in achieving all of the MDGs. Specifically, EWEC’s commitments include reducing child and maternal mortality, recognising and upholding the human rights of women and children. The third commitment but to mention a few is the SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) movement. The basic assumption underlying the activities of SUN is that investing in nutrition can help to break the cycle of poverty. Thus, SUN Movement countries seek to increase people’s access to affordable nutritious food and other determinants of good nutritional status, such as clean water, sanitation, healthcare and social protection initiatives to empower women.
World Vision Commitment
World Vision as a child focused organisation dedicated to tackling child rights, protection and promotion pledges its unwavering resolve through the promotion of government policy dialogue and citizens empowerment in achieving the goal of the campaign
The time is now. Let us join our resolve and energies in a united focused approach to improve child and maternal health in Ghana.
For further enquiries kindly contact
Micah Ayo Olad National Coordinator- Child Health Now Campaign
World Vision Ghana