Health News of Friday, 9 November 2012

Source: GNA

'Socio-cultural environment is a factor to child survival'

The National Child Health Coordinator of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Isabella Sagoe-Moses, has re-echoed calls to nursing mothers to practice the six-month exclusive breastfeeding for their babies.

She also advocated for maternity leave to be extended to six months to afford working mothers enough time to breastfeed their babies well and take better care of them during the period.

Dr. Sagoe-Moses was speaking at a workshop on Thursday to precede the Ghana Medical Association’s (GMA) 54th Annual General Conference which opens in Cape Coast on November 9.

The theme for the four-day conference being attended by about 500 medical doctors and other practitioners across the country is “Under-five survival in Ghana, challenges and the way forward.”

She urged health institutions and employers to create baby-friendly work places where mothers can take their babies to work and attend to them frequently because the health benefit of exclusive breastfeeding is enormous.

Speaking on the topic, “Addressing socio-cultural practices that affect under-five survival in Ghana”, Dr. Gilbert Buckle, Executive Director of the Christian Health Association of Ghana, said socio-cultural factors are common factors contributing to poor survival of under-five children in the country.

He mentioned the age and educational status of mothers, income and food availability in families as well as the availability of safe drinking water and basic sanitation as some of the factors that impinge on child survival.

Dr. Buckle said one’s knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and practices as well as specific ethnic cultural differences are all factors crucial to the survival of the child. He said when mothers, particularly those in the rural areas, are well educated on child nutrition and other health related issues, they would be able to take good care of their children and positively contribute to under-five survival in Ghana.

He also expressed worry that teenage pregnancy is still high in the country and that the younger the mother, the higher the risk of the child not surviving to the age of five years.