Health News of 2014-03-05

Govts urged to improve child healthcare

Speakers at an international symposium have urged governments to demonstrate political commitment to child health care by adopting innovative approaches aimed at improving it in their countries.

According to the speakers, strong political commitment demonstrated through actions are essential in enhancing child health care to meet the Millennium Development Goal 4 related to reducing child mortality.

The call was made during the opening session of an international symposium on expanding access to treatment by children in Accra on Monday.

The symposium, which was the first of its kind, was organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), governments of Ghana and Canada, World Health Organisation and other partners.

Rationale

The three-day symposium brought together more than 400 child health experts and government officials from about 40 countries around the world to discuss the integrated community case management (ICCM).

The ICCM uses trained and supervised community health workers to deliver pneumonia, malaria and diarrhoea treatment to children under five living in communities beyond the reach of medical facilties.

The symposium aimed at reviewing the progress made towards improving child health care and to draw out priorities, lessons and gaps for improving child and maternal new born health.

Over the last five decades, Africa’s under-five mortality rate has increased from 2 to 50 per cent, with one in nine children in sub-Saharan Africa dying before their fifth birthday.

Adopt innovative measures

The Ghana Country Office Representative of UNICEF, Ms Susan Namiondo Ngongi, said strong government commitments to child health care would drive countries to meet the MDG 4, while ensuring quality health care for children. She said the ICCM was one of the best modules to adopt in reducing the child mortality and morbidity menace in the world.

With few months to the 2015 deadline for the attainment of the MDGs, the Ethiopian Health Minister, Mr Kesete Admasu, noted that governments’ assurance through innovative ways was a giant step in accelerating efforts to attaining the MDG 4 and sustaining quality health care for children.

The Programme Manager of Child and Adolescent Health, Mr Phanuel Habimana, said adopting effective strategies and policies, backed by robust government commitment, would reduce the alarming rate of child mortality and morbidity.

The Canadian High Commissioner in Accra Mr Cheryl Gopaul Saikali, pledged the support of the Government of Canada to continue improving the health of n, newborns and children in vulnerable communities.

Ghana makes progress

In order to reduce the alarming rate of child mortality, the Minister of Health, Ms Sherry Ayittey, said health systems capable of reaching the most deprived and marginalised children with treatment and preventive services needed to be developed.

Although Ghana, among many other African countires, had made progress in reducing under-five deaths, Ms Ayittey said there was the need for further vigorous actions to be taken to reduce avoidable death among children.

“Under-five mortality rate has declined from 108 per 100 live births in 1998 to 1000 in 2012 in Ghana,” she stated.