The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has implored parents and caregivers that in order to ensure healthy growth of theirchildren, they shouldnot skip or suspendroutine child-health interventionsamidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
According to the GHS, children, particularly those under five, stood a higher risk of being exposed to severe health conditions which could result in disabilities and possible deaths, if parents stay away from accessing available child health services in the fear of contracting COVID-19.
Deputy Director of the Family Health Division at the GHS, Dr. Isabella Sagoe-Moses, made the appeal yesterday at the launch of this year's Child Health Promotion Week (CHPW).
The five-day event (from May 10 to May 14) is expected to increase advocacy and actions towards intensifying the delivery of integrated child survival interventions such as child immunization,Vitamin A supplementation, growth monitoring, nutrition counselling, promotion of the use of insecticide treatednet and birth registration, for under-five children in all the 16 regions.
This year's CHPW is on the theme; "Sustaining Child Health Services in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic."
Dr. Sagoe-Moses saidalthough the country had recorded some positive cases of COVID-19, the Service had put measures in place to slow down contraction and transmission among health providers, mothers and children alike.
"We are ensuring that when mothers come for weighing, they and their children are screened and when we pick up any signal, they are referred. We have also asked healthcare providers to ensure distancing at the centres so that instead of attending to all cases of child health on a day, it is spread throughout the week."
"Also, we have asked that the hand washing and sanitising of surfaces and equipment are sustained so, for instance, after every weighing of a child, the machine is sanitised and the health staff wash their hands before attending to a new child," the Deputy Director said.
She advised breastfeeding within 30 minutes after birth even when a mother is positive for COVID-19 "because the advantages of breastfeeding to protect children from infections like pneumonia, diarrhoea, diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases later in life far outweighs COVID-19, where the risk is low."
Dr. Sagoe-Moses, however, asked that mothers positive for COVID-19 wear a mask while breastfeeding to prevent their babies from being infected as well as abide by all other safety measures for fighting the virus.
The Child Health Specialist entreated mothers to ensure full immunisation of their children before they turned two years in order to protect them from diseases that could kill or disable them, cautioning also against feeding children with unhealthy foods like "sweets, sugary drinks and fast foods."
"Apply nothing except chlorhexidine to baby's cord until it falls and heals. Do not force the cord to fall off before its time because it's very dangerous. Sleep under insecticide treated net every night to protect you and your child from malaria," she advised.
The Director-General of GHS, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, in a remark, gave the assurance that the Service would continue ongoing actions to prioritise child health and its integration into the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) agenda, which is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (UHC).
He urged members of the public to support actions to save the lives of children under five, saying, "this should be extended beyond this week and focus on strengthening primary health care, ensuring that children, women and families everywhere can access the quality services they need."