Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has recommended the effective use of the Maternal and Child Health Record Book to capture the continuum of care across the various stages of services.
He said the book presented a comprehensive and important package that enabled mothers and caregivers to track service from antenatal care during pregnancy, delivery with assistance of a skilled birth attendant, postnatal care, and ensure child growth and development checks from the first years of life.
It provided comprehensive education with simple illustrations tor easy understanding, and encouraged mothers who may require further explanation, to seek assistance from their community health nurses.
“This special Record Book is technically the only official document for monitoring the growth of children, and serves as their valid Identity (ID) Cards,” he said.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye made the recommendation in Accra when the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under its Advancing Nutrition Ghana Programme handed over 139,000 of Maternal and Child Health Record Books to the Ghana Health Service.
He thanked the Agency for its sustained support, saying the GHS needed a supply of about 1.2 million copies of the books yearly, and the donation would add to its stock to serve new clients for better health outcomes.
The Director-General said it was hoped that Ghana’s population-based maternal mortality rate which slightly increased in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, would improve in 2022.
He also indicated that number of skilled birth attendants had increased from about 50 to 80 per cent, urged all pregnant women to take their antenatal visits very seriously to prevent complications and deaths.
Dr Zohra Balsara, the Director for the Health, Population and Nutrition Office (USAID), said the books were also expected to improve the quality of nutrition service delivery, especially to pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children under the age of five years.
She said the materials, which were needed to support counselling, recording of growth data of children and other services were meant be distributed to 590 health facilities across 17 districts in the Northern, North East, Upper East, and Upper West regions.
Dr Balsara reiterated the commitment of the USAID to continue to work with the GHS to improve the health and wellbeing of all Ghanaians.
Mr Selorme Kofi Azumah, a representative from the USAID Advancing Nutrition Ghana Programme, said the joint collaboration with the GHS to procure the record books followed a request by the various regional and district health directorates for logistical and technical support to improve data capture, quality, reporting and use.
He also indicated that the project had also supported the GHS to train 850 newly-recruited health workers on how to use the record books for counselling and recording, analyzing, reporting, and using data to enhance decision making.
Mr Azumah further explained that the Project, which started in June 2020, was one of the U.S. Government’s flagship interventions to help Ghana in its efforts to address the problem of malnutrition, which remained a major development concern due to the prevalence of anemia, stunting, and wasting among others.
He described some significant progress as the support of the GHS to build the capacity of 715 health workers in infant and young child feeding, anemia prevention and control, and community-based management of acute malnutrition, with a total of 590 health facilities having achieved logistical support to conduct outreach to communities to provide essential nutrition services, such as growth monitoring, immunization and iron-folate supplementation.
He further said the Project had supported the 17 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to develop their medium-term development plans for 2022 to 2025, in which nutrition activities were integrated to improve government ownership and investment for nutrition.