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Health News of Saturday, 17 October 2015

Source: GNA

Ghana makes improvement in key health areas

Dr Philomena Nyarko, Government Statistician Dr Philomena Nyarko, Government Statistician

The 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey report (GDHS) has shown improvements in a number of key health indicators, but it also makes the call for much more efforts to enhance the progress.

According to the report, there has been a decline in childhood deaths, with under-five mortality rates dropping from 155 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1988, to 60 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014.

This implies that at current levels, one in every 17 Ghanaian children dies before his fifth birthday.

The findings also show an increase in antenatal care and delivery services from skilled providers, among other things, indicating that about 97 per cent of Ghanaian women now receive antenatal care from a skilled provider, compared to the 82 per cent recorded in 2008.

There was also successes in malaria prevention through the substantial increase in the use of Insecticide Treated Bed Nets by households, especially for children and pregnant women, who are the most vulnerable group.

The report also shows a general improvement in the nutritional status of children, recording 19 per cent in 2014, compared to 2008, when more than one-third of children were found to be stunted or too short for their age.

Dr Philomena Nyarko, the Government Statistician, who launched the 528-paged document, at a seminar in Accra, encouraged all stakeholders, both public and private sector practitioners, State departments and agencies, Civil Society, as well as the media, to utilise the data provided, to determine priorities, and inform policies and programmes.

She said the GDHS programme had emerged as one of the most important tools to monitor health-sector programmes and together with other surveys such as the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, had provided a wealth of information for understanding living conditions in Ghana, particularly, as the country was going through the transition into a lower middle income country.

The 2014 GDHS, which is the sixth round since 1988, aims at providing data for monitoring the health situation of the population in Ghana.

The output from the survey would ensure proper response to data needs emerging from current international and regional initiatives, aimed at promoting the economic and social development of the country.

The 2014 GDHS was ambitiously undertaken by 25 teams of interviewers who travelled throughout the country, visiting 11,835 households, interviewing 9,396 women and 4,388 men, and testing about 2,700 children for anaemia and malaria among, other things.

“We owe our thanks to these hard-working interviewers and supervisors who made sure that data were collected and accurately recorded,” Mrs Nyarko said said.

She also thanked the stakeholders and funding partners for their support and for ensuring the successful completion of the project.

She explained that to appreciate the performance of health and population programmes to ensure that the resources allocated were used in the best way possible, data from surveys such as the GDHS, was used as a mechanism to provide reliable estimates on priority indicators.

Mr Peter Takyi Peprah of the Ghana Statistical Service, presenting highlights of the key findings in other areas such as water, sanitation and electricity, said there had also been improvements compared to what were recorded in the last survey.

Dr Babatunde Ahonsi, the UN Representative from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said his outfit was happy to see the final publication of the 2014 GDHS report.

He said it provided quality health data for policy planning and monitoring, and asked that the document be made widely available for easy access.

Mr Andrew Kars, the Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said his outfit had invested more than three million dollars into the project due to its importance to the planning and achievement of set development agenda, particularly, for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

He pledged the USAID’s continuous support towards such causes that would ensure the improvement of lives and the achievement of health and other key goals for sustainable development.