Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, Minister of Health, has reiterated Government’s commitment to ensuring quality service for maternal and newborn child healthcare.
He said several internationally recommended interventions as well as local initiatives were being implemented by the Ministry, sector agencies and partners to promote child survival and development.
He said for the first time in decades, a significant decline of about 19 per cent has been recorded with neonatal mortality rate falling from the 2011 figure of 32 per thousand live births to 25 per thousand live births as recorded by the 2017 maternal mortality survey.
Mr Agyemang-Manu said this in a speech read on his behalf at the opening ceremony of the Seventh Annual Newborn Care Stakeholders Meeting in Accra.
The three-day conference, which is being organised by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) with support from United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Ghana, aims at calling attention to the need to expedite health interventions to save newborn babies and to create awareness towards the number of newborn deaths in the country.
The Conference, held under the theme “Reaching Every Newborn, Count Down to 2030: Don’t Leave Me Out”, seeks to highlight the need to expedite health interventions to save newborn babies and create awareness towards the number of newborn deaths in the country.
Mr Agyemang- Manu said having signed on to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Government is committed to making Universal Health Coverage a reality in Ghana; stating that “we deem it obligatory to bridge all identified gaps in our health delivery system”.
He said government policies such as provision of free antenatal, delivery and post-natal services, and the expansion of Community-based Planning and Services would continue to be pursued as efforts were made to improve the implementation and coverage of the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The Health Minister said the importance of referral care in the management of newborn emergencies could not be over emphasized, hence the commitment of government to improve this aspect of service delivery.
He said the Ministry would soon revise the current National Newborn and Action plan (2014-2018), as such the outputs of the stakeholders’ meeting would be taken on board in developing the next strategy.
“We will need to work across sectors and with all stakeholders to make sure the necessary provisions to ensure that all newborns in all corners of the country are reached”, he said.
Mr Agyemang-Manu, who said Ghana could reach every newborn with evidence based interventions and thereby attain the SDG target in 2030, again commended the GHS for collaborating with various partners to implement the newborn health strategy and action plan.
Madam Anne-Claire Dufay, Country Director, UNICEF Ghana, gave an overview of her recent tours of some parts of the country such as Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region and Krachi East District in the Volta Region, has shown that Ghana was making a significant progress in the newborn healthcare delivery.
She reiterated UNICEF’s commitment to help generate evidence based research findings and the establishment of neonatal care units and support for the promotion of mother and child health.
Dr Owen Kaluwa, World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative to Ghana, lauded Ghana for the successful organisation of the Annual Newborn Care Stakeholders Meeting over the past seven years.
He said their target was to reduce neonatal deaths to least 12 per thousand birthdays by 2030.
Madam Sharon Cromer, USAID Missions Director in Ghana, said despite the gains that Ghana had made in reducing neonatal mortality in recent years, there was still more to be done.
She said Ghana could not achieve its vision of a “Ghana Beyond Aid” without investing in its newborns and early childhood development.
Dr Isabella Sagoe-Moses, Deputy Director for Reproductive and Child Health at the Family Health Division of GHS, in her presentation on progress in implementation of National Newborn Strategy and Action plan (2014-2018), underscored the need to have a National Health Strategy.
She said despite the presence of evidence based interventions and a great potential to reduce avoidable newborn deaths, 44 per cent of the global 2.9 million under-five deaths take place in the newborn period.
Dr Sagoe-Moses said a lot has been achieved in improving newborn health in Ghana over the past five years; however, there is more work to be done.
Dr Patrick Aboagye, Director of Public Health, GHS, who chaired the function, lauded Ghana for reducing infant mortality by five.