The Integrated Youth Needs and Welfare (INTYON), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) has held durbars in 58 communities in the Bongo District to promote exclusive breastfeeding and discourage cultural practices that affect Mother and Child Health (MCH).
The initiative, under the Mother Baby Friendly Health Initiative (MBFHI) Project, has financial support from Bill and Melinda Foundation, another NGO and the separate durbars brought together chiefs, women groups, husbands and their wives, health workers, Assembly members, opinion leaders and the youth.
Some of the communities that hosted the durbars included the Sanabisi, Zorko Kadare, Zorko Kanga, Azorko-bisisi, Adaboya, Lembisi, Akanseinga, Azuwobgo, Amanga.
The INTYON in partnership with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has been implementing the project in 100 communities in the District for some time now and is expected to end this year.
It empowers the communities to employ advocacy, drama and focus group discussions to ensure increased demand for ante-natal and post-natal services, early initiation to breast feeding within 30 minutes after birth, exclusive breastfeeding and promoting basic new-born care.
The community durbars provided platforms for some selected members in the communities who acted dramas after focus group discussions, emphasising the need to promote skilful delivery in the health facilities instead of allowing pregnant women to deliver at homes and cared for by non-health professionals.
The dramas and focus group discussions depicted how important it was for men to accompany their pregnant wives to deliver at health facilities instead of allowing them to visit health facilities alone for delivery.
Naba Nyab Abugre, the Chief of Sanabisi, who chaired one of the occasions on Saturday at the Sanabisi community, said it was high time communities abandoned outmoded and harmful cultural practices which were very detrimental to the health of mothers and children.
'At this 21st century there are no excuses now for a woman to be allowed to give birth at home as more facilities are now closer to our communities.
'Many pregnant women who give birth at home often experience a lot of health complications which could even lead to the death of either the mother or the baby.
'There is therefore the urgent need for men to be encouraged to support and accompany pregnant women to the health facilities to deliver as depicted in the drama by the community members,' the chief stressed.
Nma Agebase Akurigo, the Queen Mother of Sanabisi, attributed the failure of many men accompanying their pregnant wives to deliver at health facilities to stigmatization by some community members.
'The only challenge is that most men do not accompany women to the health facilities. Some are shy and always complain that their colleague men will tease them should they see them with their wives going to the health facility.
'This is affecting most pregnant women in labour as the mother-in-laws are the only ones who often accompany them to the health facilities to deliver and that is why some end up giving birth on the way or even at home,' the Queen Mother explained.
She further called on pregnant women to politely encourage their husbands to follow them to the health facilities to deliver and stressed that it takes time for a change to happen.
Chief Issah Ibrahim, the Executive Director of INTYON, commended the various Chiefs and Queen Mothers, Assembly members and staff of the GHS for their active involvement in the implementation of the project and advocated for continuous support to ensure sustainability of the project.
The Executive Director attributed the high ante-natal and post-natal visits of women to health facilities in the District to the interventions of the project and indicated that there had also been significant reduction in maternal and infant deaths in the area.