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Health News of Monday, 1 September 2014

Source: Mathias Aboba

U/ER records success in newborn care

The Upper East Region has recorded significant strides in many of the region’s health targets for the years including reduction in newborn death. This came to light at the region’s health sector mid-year performance review in Bolgatanga. During the half year, other indicators that also registered major improvements are childhood immunizations, supervised delivery, post-natal coverage, malaria care and CHPS implementation and scale up. Addressing participants at the review forum, the Regional Director of Health Services, Dr. John Koku Awoonor-Williams, noted that following recent increase in the trend of under-5 mortality, the region took serious steps to arrest the situations. These measures, he said included the introduction of the “Motor King Ambulance” service for emergency referrals, specialized newborn care training for staff and volunteers as well as essential equipment supply. According to the Regional Director these measures have contributed to the reduction in neonatal mortality from 95 in 2012 to 52 in 2014. Dr. Awoonor-Williams touted the region’s performance in childhood immunization coverage. He noted that the half year of 2014 in particular saw unprecedented increase in EPI coverage figures in the region a phenomena he attributed to the national launch of this year’s Child Health Promotion Week which took place in the region earlier in May and the follow up activities. While expressing his worry over fluctuating trends in maternal deaths in the region over the past few years, the Regional Director underscored the important role of health inter-related agencies and departments in working to further reduce and keep under control maternal deaths in the region and the country as a whole. He said the Upper East region will continue to pursue its strategy of training and deploying more midwives to CHPS compounds to improve quality and access to ANC services and supervised delivery. He was hopeful the focus the region is giving to family planning with most of the districts currently providing cost free family planning services and extensively working on male involvement will soon translate in increased family planning services uptake. He noted that in spite of some improvement in nutrition related indicators such as a drop in underweight neonatal deaths from 22% in 2013 to 15% 2014 and an increase from 75.7% to 81.9 5 in the cure rate of Community Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) there were still concerns with high incidence of low birth weights and still births which he said calls for renewed efforts. On the burden of malaria in the region, Dr. Awoonor-Williams admitted that the disease despites numerous interventions in place to curtail its burden continues to hold the number one spot in OPD morbidity. He however pointed out that trainings for prescribers on the new anti-malaria drug policy is yielding good results with reduction in malaria case fatality in under-fives falling from 0.8 in 2012 to 0.5 in 2014. He was however sad that the long delays in NHIA reimbursement is culminating in increasing wide spread deterioration of health facilities with huge pressure on staff as evident in the consistent increase in OPD per capita in the region. The situation he said, was also leading to heavy indebtedness of health facilities to the region’s medical stores with a resultant significant fall in drug availability for service delivery. Dr Awoonor-Williams said the region was working hard on disease surveillance and public education to prevent possible entry of the deadly Ebola virus through the numerous borders in the region against the odds of inadequate supply of personal protective equipment and other vital logistics. He praised the role of local and external partners including; UNICEF, UNFPA, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Comic Relief, CRS, Red Cross, World Vision for their immersed contribution to the health sector in the region. Mr. Robert Agene a renowned retire educationist and Chairman of the Regional Health Committee who presided over the forum commended health staffs in the region for their hard work which he noted continue to put the region among the best performing in the country and urge them to continue to be shining examples of dedicated staff who have the needs of the population they are serving at heart.

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