The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has taken delivery of 139,000 maternal and child health record books to improve nutritional status among pregnant and lactating mothers as well as children under age five.
Handed over by the USAID, the record books were to support counselling, data collection and other essential nutritional and health services needed for proper growth of newborns and their mothers.
It was to be distributed to 590 health facilities across 17 districts in the Northern, North East, Upper East and Upper West regions.
Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director-General of the GHS, receiving the books, noted its importance to reducing neonatal and maternal deaths across the country.
According to him, although the country was seeing a decline in maternal mortality, the numbers remained a worry hence the need for improved data capturing, service delivery and data use to advance healthcare.
"Currently, our maternal mortality rate is 360 per 100,000 live births per the population and 118 from all our health facilities every year. We are seeing a decline although last yearit went up slightly but we hope it further decline this year," he stated.
The Director-General said Ghana needed at least 1.2 million maternal and child health record books every year to promote continuum of care among pregnant women, newborns and children under five.
"The book is the only official book for mothers and newborns till they attain age five. It serves as check for pregnancy and proper growth of the child. It teaches the mother what food to give to the child depending on the age.
It also serves as identification card for babies that go through our system, and information is written in simple language to help parents appreciate how to properly take care of their children," he said.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye said while the GHS had introduced nutrition counselling services, pre and post natal, at all its health facilities, the book would complement efforts to ensure neonatal, infant and maternal mortalities were reduced.
"We urge all pregnant women to visit antenatal regularly, give birth through skills birth and patronise our child welfare clinics to promote good health and well-being of mothers and newborns," he advised.
The Health, Population and Nutrition Officer of USAID, Dr Zohra Balsara, said the donation fell under the Agency's "Advancing Nutrition Ghana" programme which aims at addressing the problem of malnutrition and reduce the prevalence of anaemia, stunt and wast among the population.
"The record book helps mothers and caregivers track services from pregnancy through to the child's first five years of life to ensure children thrive. It has nutrition messages on hoe to eat well during pregnancy and hoe to feed a child as well as hygiene messages to promote family support," she said.