Ghana joins 49 other nations globally this year to conduct research to collect comprehensive data on maternal health, child nutrition and protection, HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation. The third round of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) on over 100 indictors that are being addressed by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) would involve more than 6,000 household nationwide.
More than 70 research assistants drawn from all the regions have completed a two-week training to undertake the two-month exercise, which begins on August 1, 2006.
Launching survey in Accra on Friday Mr Samuel Owusu-Agyei, Deputy Minister of Health, underscored its importance and said the data to be collected would be of critical significance to decision-making by Government and all interested bodies.
He said it would serve as a good source of information to measure the targets of the MDGs as well as the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy document so as to know what had been achieved and what was left to be tackled.
Mr Owusu-Agyei said the survey would also provide accurate and reliable data for the expansion of the Accelerated Child Survival and Development (ACSD) approach and the High Impact Rapid Delivery (HIRD) towards the achievement of the MDGs on child and maternal mortality.
He noted that the 2005 Demographic Health Survey (DHS) showed a staggering picture of child and maternal mortality and said there was the need to routinely monitor the situation in order to improve upon it.
Professor Nicholas Nsowah-Nuamah, Acting Government Statistician, who also doubled as the National Project Director, said when completed the indicators would be assembled and admitted into the GhanaInfo Database and posted on the Ghana Statistical Survey web-site.
He said the 6,000 household respondents would be increased in the next round of the MICS likely to be in 2011.
Dr Agnes Akosua Aidoo, Representative from UNICEF, commended Ghana for her progress towards the introduction of the MICS and said the country had been an active participant in the major international and regional initiatives to secure the health and well-being of children and women.
She stressed the need to monitor the trends in indicators for all the development goals and targets that Ghana and other countries had set.
"We must know where we are making real progress and where we need to intensify our efforts for healthy and equitable human development," Dr Aidoo said, noting that the DHS and the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS) had been very helpful.
She said MICS provided a tool to fine-tune the critical data from larger surveys on the situation of children, particularly the worrying data on under-five mortality rates and their regional variations.
According to her, this year's MICS would collect information on 20 of the 48 MDG indicators, making it the single largest source of data for the MDG monitoring.
Ghana's survey to cost over 400,000 dollars, has adopted a gender approach with the introduction of a fourth questionnaire on men.