World Vision-Ghana says there has been some significant improvement in child and maternal health in Ghana over the last two decades.
This development, according to the NGO, has contributed immensely in the decrease in child mortality rate from 121 deaths per 1,000 births in 1990 to 78 in 2011. Also, infant and neonatal mortality rates have declined by similar margin.
This was made known at a press conference addressed in Accra yesterday on the theme: 'saving the lives of mothers and children through improved access to quality health services.'
However, there were large regional disparities in the under-five mortality rate, Hubert Charles, National Director of World Vision-Ghana pointed out.
"Although there has been some improvement, mothers and children are still dying from preventable causes," he added.
In 2008, he mentioned, the rate for the entire nation was 80 deaths per 1,000. But the Central, Northern, and Upper West regions experienced much higher rates with 108, 137 and 142 deaths per every 1,000 births.
Another, major cause of child mortality, Mr. Charles identified is the presence of stunting. Almost one third of children under five years are stunted and one in eight newborns are born with low birth weight, he added.
"An estimated 40% of deaths among children under five years old are either directly or indirectly due to under-nutrition" Mr. Charles mentioned.
According to him Ghana has made relatively "slow progress in improving child and maternal health. Between 1990 and 2011the under-five mortality rate decreased by 36%, which was insufficient to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 of 66% in 2015", he revealed.
The Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) therefore called on the government to improve the quality and accessibility of health services, with a particular focus on poor and marginalized communities by putting equitable access to health services on the agenda of District Health Management Teams.
The government must also address the human resource gaps in rural health facilities, including improving incentive packages to attract personnel and also reform the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) financing to ensure that all, especially the poorest can afford insurance. It further called for the increase in the capacity of communities to take first critical actions in promoting and protecting the health of children, women and the most vulnerable by expanding education of families in health related issues.
Also, by empowering families and communities to demand quality and effective health delivery, again support effective community monitoring systems to identify signs of faltering growth in children under five.