The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) has launched two projects in health to positively impact on the well-being of 10 underprivileged Districts across the Northern and Upper East Regions.
The projects; Integrated Community Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement (ICOWASH), and Phase two of the Rural Emergency Health Service and Transport (REST II) which were both funded by the Helmsley Charitable Trust were valued at $11.5 million.
They were launched on the theme: “Strengthening Institutional and Community Systems for improved health and wellbeing; the need for integrated WASH and Health Interventions,” and would benefit Karaga, Gushegu, Kumbungu, West and East Mamprusi, and Mamprusi Moaduri Districts of the Northern Region.
While in the Upper East Region, it would cover the Nabdam, Builsa South and Kassena-Nankana West Districts.
The event attracted Regional and District Directors of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Ghana Education Service (GES) across the Northern and Upper East Regions, some Members of Parliament (MPs), the Clergy, traditional rulers and pupils.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Kris Ozar, Country Representative of the CRS Ghana, said the projects were designed to bring transformation in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), and health interventions to 182 health facilities and 80 schools, and would reach an estimated 500,000 people in 560 communities across 10 Districts in the beneficiary Regions.
The Country Representative, in a brief presentation of some specific information about each project said “ICOWASH will deeply engage with two districts: West Mamprusi and Talensi to improve the health and wellbeing of 152, 334 rural adults and children.”
He disclosed that ICOWASH’s direct beneficiaries were estimated as 75,451 boys and girls under age 18, and 76,883 women and men, including 480 teachers and 30 health care facility employees across 160 communities.
Mr Ozar said the project was intended to achieve district-wide coverage of WASH in both Districts (West Mamprusi and Talensi) by complementing the efforts of other actors.
He said ICOWASH at the household level would further sensitize households on open defecation and expand on a Community Led Total Sanitation approach to end open defecation, install over 85 sustainable safe water points and encourage families to practice safe and hygienic behaviours.
The Country Representative emphasized that the “CRS will continue services that were successfully implemented in a previous WASH project, the Integrated Sanitation, Hygiene and Nutrition for Education (I-SHINE)”, and added that it would scale up key WASH infrastructure installations.
Mr Ozar said ICOWASH would support healthcare facility staff to manage WASH in their environment through infrastructure improvements and Behavior Change Communication (BCC) campaigns.
He said REST II, which was an evolution of REST I, would deliver high impact health interventions to an estimated 302,000 people in 152 health facilities and 400 communities across the 10 Districts.
In the same vein, the CRS with support from the GHS, would scale up tested and high impact strategies to improve maternal, newborn, child health, nutrition practices, and pre and postnatal health service utilization.
Dr John Abanyire, the Deputy Director of Public Health at the Northern Regional Health Directorate, who launched the projects, underscored the importance to pull expertise, interventions and resources of other sectors such as WASH to address the multi-faceted
challenges confronting the health sector as the Ministry strives to accelerate effects at improving the health status of mothers and children.
He said some of the top causes of morbidity and mortality in Ghana could be traced to poor environmental sanitation, and limited or lack of safe drinking water for many people, most of whom dwelled in rural and urban slums.