Neonatal, infant mortality rates reduce
The rate at which newborn babies in the country die in the first 28 days of life, otherwise known as neonatal mortality, has reduced from 29 per 1000 live births to 17 over the last decade.
Similarly, infant mortality rate reduced from 41 per 1000 live births to 28 during the same period, while skilled delivery grew from 75.5 to 87.6.
The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, made these known at the fourth Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Conference of the Ghana Health Service in Accra yesterday.
The three-day conference, which was attended by key stakeholders in the maternal and child health space, was on the theme: Strengthening Service Delivery for Quality and Accessible Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH&N) outcomes to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) midpoint and beyond.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye said the achievements made in those areas were indicators that the country was on track in attaining the SDG 2 on Zero Hunger and SDG 3 on Health.
“We are not off track.
We have done well but there is plenty of work to be done to get there.
In all, we have to improve quality of care and patient safety so that the outcomes will be good for us,” he stressed.
He said the prevailing stagnant situation in some healthcare efforts in the country such as anaemia in women and children and the slow pace in the reduction of neonatal mortality rate undermined the progress towards the achievement of the health-related SDG targets.
He said other threats to improved health outcomes included the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases and the triple burden of malnutrition, including overweight, undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.
“Stunting and wasting amongst children under five remain high with wide regional disparities.
The 2020 Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC) Assessment has also shown the wide disparities in basic health infrastructure and services which must be addressed,” he pointed out.
On the conference, Dr Kuma-Aboagye said it had been established as a platform to engage stakeholders and address critical issues related to maternal, child health and nutrition, adding that RMNCAH&N formed the bedrock of robust, resilient communities with their accessibility, quality and outcomes serving as crucial indicators to achieving the health-related SDGs.
The Team Lead, Universal Health Coverage Life Course Cluster of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Sofonias Asrat, said unless the country doubled its efforts, especially in the areas of service delivery for RMNCAH&N, it was unlikely to meet the SDGs, particularly those related to health.
He therefore called on the government, civil society organisations, traditional and religious leaders, as well as corporate organisations and those in the health sector development partners to make RMNCAH&N a priority in the health sector and contribute towards strengthening service delivery for quality and accessible outcomes to meeting the SDGs midpoint and beyond.
Decline in global child mortality
Quoting data, Dr Asrat said global child mortality rates showed a significant decline but challenges still remained, pointing out that in the year 2021, almost 1.9 million babies were stillborn at 28 weeks or more of gestation with a global stillbirth rate of 13.9 stillbirths per 1000 total births.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s share of the global number of stillbirths also increased from 26 per cent in the year 2000 to 45 per cent in the year 2021.
“Projections indicate that in order to achieve the global targets by 2030, there is the need to accelerate progress to achieve an average Annual Reduction Rate (ARR) of 11.6 per cent for the maternal mortality ratio (MMR), 5.2 per cent for the Stillbirth Rate (SBR) and 7.2 per cent for the Neonatal Mortality Rate (NMR) from what it has been in the past decade - that is 1.3 per cent for MMR, 1.8 per cent for SBR and 2.2 per cent for NMR,” he said.
In Ghana, however, he said the trend of MMR mirrored that of the global pattern that showed a higher rate of reduction between 2000 and 2010 but a much slower rate since 2010.
Quoting figures, he said the MMR in Ghana decreased to 244 maternal deaths per 100,000 livebirths in 2019 after it had plateaued around 274 per 100,000 livebirths during the two preceding years.
A Deputy Minister of Health, Tina Gifty Naa Ayeley Mensah, who opened the conference on behalf of the sector Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, gave an assurance that the ministry and its agencies would continue to scale up proven interventions that would ultimately reduce maternal mortality rates, enhance access to skilled birth attendants and ensure comprehensive antenatal and post-natal care for all women.
She said the ministry would also continue with efforts to improve healthcare infrastructure, train and post healthcare professionals and advocate maternal health issues to ensure that significant strides were made towards ensuring safe and positive birth experiences for every mother.