The end of the second quarter of the year, the European Union (EU) in Ghana released GHC14.6 million (EUR 3.3 million) as the fourth and final disbursement to the government treasury in support of the 2016/17 Millennium Acceleration Framework (MAF) operational plan implemented by the Ministry of Health.
The support follows a previous disbursement of GHC118 million in July 2015 and brings the total sector budget support disbursed under the Ghana Maternal Health Support Programme (GMHSP) since 2012 to € 44.5 million.
The 2016/17 MAF Operational Plan, jointly developed by the Ministry of Health and its partners, focuses on refurbishing and equipping health facilities in order to improve maternal and newborn care in Ghana.
It takes into account the policy orientation of the health sector towards upgrading of facilities to become Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (EmONC) compliant, increasing investment on essential equipment and strengthening referral systems.
The specific objectives are to increase the proportion of pregnant women, making at least 4 antenatal visits from 63% in 2015 to 75% in 2017 and the proportion of deliveries attended by a trained health worker from 55.1% in 2015 to 65% in 2017.
In terms of medical equipment, the Ministry of Health has allocated ?65.7 million to improve the service delivery of health facilities across the country.
According to the operational plan, this will include the procurement of around 36 infant incubators, 400 V-scans, 15 oxygen cylinders with accessories and 20 x-ray machines, among many others.
In the area of infrastructure, it has planned to upgrade health facilities in the country with an allocation of GHC15.8 million, among which are the construction of 10 additional maternity theatres for high load hospitals, the upgrading of health facilities within the districts to be Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (EmONC) compliant and the extension of a six-bed capacity of the intensive care unit of a health facility.
In addition, five new ambulance stations will be established, and the National Ambulance Service is to be resourced with 30 new ambulances with onboard incubators.
To complement this support, the Ghana Statistical Service in June 2016 received a grant of over GHC7 million, equivalent to €1.7 million, as part of the EU's institutional support to undertake the 2017 Maternal Health Survey.
The 2017 survey will be a follow up to the 2007 Maternal Health Survey, which will assess the maternal mortality ratio as well as the status of Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (EmONC). It is cofunded by USAID and UNFPA.
On the occasion of the disbursement, Mr William Hanna, Ambassador of the European Union to Ghana, expressed his expectation that the Ministry of Health and its partners will make best use of the EU health sector budget support to improve the situation of maternal and newborn care in the country.
"The EU has been working together with Ghana to support maternal health for the last four years. A lot has been achieved, but we need to do even more, and we all need to work harder together, particularly in remote areas and in the north of Ghana, where still today too many women die in child birth."