Accra, Sept. 21, GNA - Results of the 2003 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) were released in Accra on Tuesday with worrying findings over the worsening infant mortality rates despite interventions in child health care.
Trends in infant mortality show that in 1993, the infant mortality rate was 66 deaths per 1,000 live births, dropping to 57 in 1998 but rising again to 64 in 2003, despite increases in vaccination coverage, breastfeeding practices and other child health interventions.
The Ministry of Health has therefore called for the setting up of a team of experts to examine the worsening trend in child health care. The Minister of Health, Dr Kweku Afriyie in a speech read for him at the national dissemination seminar on the 2003 GDHS, said other health indices showed a lot of improvement in child health and vaccination coverage.
According to him, in 1980 there were about 82,000 cases of measles but the figure dropped to 1,158 in 2003. The 2003 GDHS also shows that 69 per cent of children received all of the recommended childhood vaccinations, while five per cent received none at all.
Dr Afriyie said although the maternal and infant mortality statistics were up, the blame could not be put at the doors of the health system alone since issues such as one's life choices, socio-economic factors and poverty levels also impacted negatively on health outcomes.
The Minister said it was worrying that Ghanaians were still grappling with preventable diseases and conditions such as road traffic accidents, malaria and anaemia.
He said the Ministry was going to scale up public health interventions and expand the management of childhood diseases among other activities to ensure adequate health care for the communities. Dr Grace Bediako, Government Statistician, said results of the GDHS should guide decision makers at all levels including the communities and districts and appealed to the media to play an effective role in disseminating the information.
The 2003 GDHS was based on interviews with a nationally representative sample of 6,251 households in all the 10 regions. Findings indicate that when compared to other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Ghana's total fertility rate was one of the lowest. Ghana is currently recording 4.4 as compared to Burkina Faso (6.2), Nigeria (5.7) and Kenya (4.9) for total fertility rates in 2003.
Within Ghana, the total number of children per a woman in the Northern region is seven as compared to 2.9 in Greater Accra. The 2003 GDHS release also shows that the use of modern contraception is becoming increasingly common.
An interesting feature of the GDHS is the inclusion of HIV testing for the first time, with results showing that females were more vulnerable to the HIV/AIDS.
Prevalence among females was consistently higher than among males in all age groups except at ages 40-44, where male prevalence was higher.