A three-day meeting to track progress at improving quality of care to advance maternal, newborn and child health in line with achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) goals opened in Accra yesterday.
Under the auspices of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the meeting involved representatives from 10 countries under the Network for Improving Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (NIQMNCH).
Formed in 2017, the Network, which Ghana is a member, had the vision to halve the number of maternal, newborn deaths and stillbirths by 2022 while improving the experience of quality care for pregnant women, mothers and their babies.
Opening the meeting, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, in an address, indicated that although Ghana had not been able to meet the target to reduce its maternal mortality rate (MMR) by half, significant progress had been made on maternal and newborn health indicators in the last five years.
He mentioned an increase in antenatal care from 96 to 98 per cent, births in health facilities from 55 to 79 per cent, births attended to by skilled providers from 55 to 79 per cent and a reduction in neonatal and infant mortality from 29 to 25 and 50 to 37 respectively per 1000 live births recorded in the country.
Nonetheless, the Health Minister said the current MMR of 319 per 100,000 live births, remained a challenge and was still way above the WHO target to reduce maternal mortalities to less than 70 per every 100,000 live births.
“Most of these deaths we record are preventable and about 65 per cent of them are attributable to four causes; postpartum haemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, abortion and sepsis,” he noted.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said the meeting was crucial to review individual country’s efforts and improve knowledge sharing in maternal and child health interventions towards further reducing maternal and neonatal mortalities.
He expressed the government’s commitment to the objectives of the Network through the implementation of various quality care policies and initiatives to ensure that “every woman, every child, every family everywhere receives quality care throughout the continuum of care and ultimately end preventable morbidities and mortalities.”
The Acting WHO Assistant Director-General, Anshu Banerjee, noted that being able to provide quality care for women, children and adolescents, was an issue of equity and that government must work to ensure that resources were equally distributed across all levels of the healthcare delivery system.
“We need to strengthen and resource the healthcare system to provide quality service to the last mile. Quality of care must be integrated and implemented fully across all levels because we cannot achieve UHC without quality care,” he stated.
The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, said lessons learnt over the five years of implementing quality of care interventions would help address prevailing bottlenecks moving forward and improve maternal and child health.
“The implementation has provided a platform for scale up of quality interventions in other aspects of healthcare. Learnings from the network has offered the opportunity to provide direction to emerging quality of care initiatives by partners and Ghana will implement recommendations from the country review within our country context to strengthen quality of care,” he stated.