...to improve coverage of children under five Accra, April 22, GNA - The Ghana Health Services (GHS) is implementing a new approach that aims at scaling up a number of priority interventions to reverse the morbidity and mortality trends in the country.
As part of these interventions, a child health promotion week has been proposed to improve access and efficiency in service delivery, quality of care and increase coverage of children under the ages of five.
Dr George Amofa, Director of Public Health, Ghana Health Services (GHS), at a press briefing on Thursday, said the exercise would target all children under five years of age, totalling more than 5.6 million nationwide, starting from the May 3 to May 8, 2004.
The objective is to set aside a week to focus on creating awareness and intensifying efforts to increase knowledge, as well as improve health coverage for children, especially those, who would not usually be covered under routine outreach services.
The programme that is a collaborative effort between the GHS, Ministry of Health, WHO, UNICEF and USAID, would be an annual event to offer children free health packages which would include the administration of vaccines like the Vitamin 'A' capsules, provision of child record cards and weighing among other services.
Dr Amofa said the GHS had also linked up with the Birth and Death Registry to ensure the registration of children less than one year. He said a number of children reported at health institutions daily with preventable conditions such as malaria, diarrhoea, measles and respiratory tract infections, but due to certain delays their conditions worsened and usually resulted in deaths.
"Currently malaria morbidity accounts for over 40 per cent of all Out Patients Department attendance and more than 22 per cent of deaths in children under five", he said.
He stated that it was very important, therefore, for child health programmes to look beyond single diseases or disorders.
"They must address the overall health of the child, since most childhood morbidity and mortality caused by common diseases like diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections and malnutrition, in most sick children presents related signs and symptoms that are more than one of these conditions", he said.
Dr Amofa said the GHS personnel and other representatives from collaborating sectors and ministries throughout the country were making preparations to ensure smooth start and success of the programme. Dr Amofa urged parents to participate in the programme fully to ensure its success.
Dr Deborah Cubbage, Director, Regional Health Co-ordination, GHS, appealed to the media to help to intensify education on the need to treat the health needs of their children with all urgency. She explained that the programme was an additional service to the existing ones to boost coverage, especially for children less than five years and further motivate mothers with the little incentives of free care given.