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Health News of Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Source: GNA

Neonatal deaths worrying - Dr Awoonor-Williams

Bolgatanga, Oct. 14, GNA - The Upper East Regional Director of Health Service, Dr John Koku Awoonor-Williams, has expressed concern at the increasing spate of neonatal deaths in the country. He noted that the country's maternal death rate, which stood at about 230 per 100,000 live births and a child mortality rate of 111 per 1000 live births, were disincentive to the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that seeks to promote effective maternal healthcare. Dr Awoonor-Williams attributed the situation to factors such as poor nutritional, poor environmental and personal hygiene, unavailability of safe motherhood, essential equipment and logistics as well as socio-cultural beliefs and practices.

The Regional Director was addressing a press conference organized by his outfit ahead of this year's National Immunization Day (NID) campaign with priority target for integrated maternal child health, which starts from October 16 to 18, 2008. He said the region would, however, extend the number of days for the exercise to reach remote and inaccessible communities. The exercise expected to cost the region about GH¢168,000 had already received support from the United Nations Children's Education Fund (UNICEF) where the UN body had provided 40,000 bed nets and an additional GH¢13,000.

Dr Awoorno-Williams said the region chalked 80 per cent success coverage last year and was determined to make a good impression this year by ensuring that it adopts workable and achievable mechanisms to hit a 100 per cent target.

He said the media had a crucial role to play in ensuring that the programme was successful and noted that various stakeholders such as health departments, community health volunteers, and core health personnel have been involved. Dr Awoorno-Williams, flanked by senior officers and heads of the various disease control units of the Ghana Health Service, emphasized that the possible in-flow of foreign nationals from neighbouring Burkina Faso and Togo to take the vaccines was eminent. He, however, gave the assurance that the Health Service had acquired enough vaccines that would effectively take care of contingencies.

He said measures have also been put in place to also address child related health issues, high impact and rapid delivery approach, integrated measles campaign and integrated maternal and child health. The Regional Director the region had seen a drastic drop in measles cases from 34,671 in 1994 to 434 in 2005 and said the absence of reported cases of the Wild Polio Virus (WPV), was as a result of the successful NID campaigns in the area.

Dr Awoonor-Williams, however, warned of possible importation of polio into the country following cross border activities and said a total of 1,192 of the WPV cases were confirmed in nine countries with Nigeria recording 94 per cent of the total cases. He therefore called for an urgent need to step up maternal and child health campaigns in the region so as to contain the situation. He expressed gratitude to UNICEF for the support and said the vaccines and provision of bed nets under the programme would be free and entreated members of the public to patronize it and make it a success.