Saturday, March 25, 2017

33 Health Facilities Get Support To Fight Maternal And Infant Mortalities

Exe. Dir. Savana Signatures
Reducing maternal and infant mortality rates in all of its health facilities across the country to the barest minimum has been a major headache to the Ghana Health Service over the years.

In Northern Ghana for instance, statistics suggest that maternal mortality rates are exceedingly higher than the national average of 320 deaths per 100,000 live births. 

Challenges such as poor road network, female genital mutilation, anaemia, lack of or inadequate health personnel as well as essential lifesaving medicines among others, account for these deaths.

That notwithstanding, improper documentation or storage of data on infants and pregnant women by nurses and midwives, sometimes lead to needless deaths that further cause an increase of the already alarming statistics.

But thanks to Savana Signatures, Salasan Incorporated and Musttimhw Solutions with funding support from Global Affairs Canada, a project called “Technology for Maternal and Child Health (T4MCH)” is currently being implemented in 33 health facilities in 9 districts in the Upper West, Northern and Volta Regions of Ghana. The districts are Sawla-Tuna-Kalba, North Gonja, Sagnarigu, Kajebi, Mamprugu-Moaduri, Wa West, Jirapa, Wa East and Nkwanta North Districts.

According to the Executive Director, Savana Signatures, John Stephen Agbenyo, T4MCH seeks to drastically reduce maternal and infant mortalities in the beneficiary districts especially communities the 33 health facilities are serving.

T4MCH is an upgrade of Technology for Maternal Health (T4MH) implemented in 2011 through the support of STAR-Ghana in 10 hospitals in the Northern Region. Like the first project, T4MCH design maternal and child health (MCH) messages and deliver them through mobile phones in SMS and Voice messages format to pregnant women up till six months after they have delivered. 

“SMS are in English but beneficiaries may choose from nine different languages including Dagbani, Gonja, Birifo, Dagaare, Ewe, Twi, Sissala among others for voice messages”, Mr. Agbenyo indicated.

As part of the implementation of T4MCH, each of the 33 health facilities will be provided with a laptop, projector, projector screen, 2 smartphones and a public address system to enable nurses disseminate educational information to pregnant women through powerpoint presentations, videos and pictures for their understanding.

The Programmes Manager, T4MCH, Abdul-Rashid Imoro told Savannahnews that, each of the health facilities will also receive a cash amount of GH¢800.00 monthly throughout the implementation of the 3-year project to enable them fuel their motorbikes so that they can carry out effective community health outreach services.

Moreover, in order to ensure an effective utilisation of the electronic or ICT equipments that will be given to the health facilities, Savana Signatures is also training selected midwives and Community health nurses (CHN) on how to operate and use them efficiently.

Programmes Manager, Savana Signatures
Recently, about 16 CHN and midwives from four beneficiary health facilities in the Sagnarigu District were trained. “The aim is to improve their skills with computers and ultimately women’s and families’ access to good MCH information.

“The trainings are designed to improve ICT skills amongst midwives and CHN and specifically focus on ICT skills for better MCH outcomes”, Mr. Imoro explained.

Ms Linda Dery, a CHN with the Kalpohin Health Centre who took part in the training in an interview with Savannahnews, lauded the initiative by Savana Signatures saying “Now, with the kind of training I have received through the T4MCH project, my knowledge will be adequately enhanced to enable me store accurate data of patients who visit the facility.

“We will no longer encounter problems with regards to data collection and storage and this means that patients conditions are monitored very well and the appropriate actions taken to address their health needs”, she noted.

With the provision of fuel money, she is happy she and her colleagues will be able to visit communities often to carry out health outreach services and this she believes will go a long way to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates.

Meanwhile, T4MCH is expected to benefit some 30,000 pregnant women by increasing their access to health facilities, increasing their knowledge about healthy pregnancies and safe childbirth. 

It will encourage regular attendance at antenatal care and postnatal care appointments. Infants born to these women will benefit from health facility deliveries under the care of a qualified midwife and follow-up postnatal care including vaccinations.

Being important decision makers about their wives’ health, husbands are also beneficiaries of mobile messaging and knowledge sharing sessions that take place between a health official and pregnant women and their spouses. 

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