Accra, May 10, GNA – Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health, has charged members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to support one another through cross-country learning, exchange of information and skills to improve the wellbeing of people in the Sub-region.

That, he noted, would accelerate and strengthen their health systems for enhanced quality of life.

The Minister said this in a speech read on his behalf at the opening of a two-day dissemination meeting held in Accra for six ECOWAS countries.

The meeting dubbed, “Catalyzing leadership to Improve Women, New -born, Child and Adolescent health and Wellbeing (WNCAW) in West Africa,” was organised by the West African Health Organisations (WAHO) with support from the International Development Research Center (IDRC).

It was also in partnership with Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR), Women, Media, and Change (WOMEC), and the Ghana Health Service Research and Development Division.

Mr Agyeman-Manu said despite the significant improvements in the health and wellbeing of the vulnerable group in the sub-region in recent times, there was an urgent need to accelerate efforts.

A 2019 data from the World Health Organistion indicate that approximately, 810 women died in 2017 from preventable deaths with causes related to pregnancy and childbirth with Sub Saharan Africa contributing about a third of these deaths.

The Minister noted that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed a reduction in under-five mortality to as low as 25 deaths per 1000 live births by 2030.

However, the current under-five mortality rate for Sub Saharan Africa was 76 deaths per 1,000 live births, which was 67 per cent above the recommended SDG target of 25 deaths per 1,000.

That meant that if Africa was to reduce under-five mortality rate to meet the SDG target by 2030, the annual rate of reduction of under-five mortality should increase, he said, adding that currently, only Cape Verde in West Africa had under-five mortality rates below the SDG target of 25 per 1,000 live births.

Statistics from the 2017 Ghana Maternal Health Survey suggest that maternal mortality ratio in Ghana declined from 320 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015 to 310 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017.

Mr Agyeman-Manu said in view of the above, Ghana had implemented a number of interventions such as the Free Maternal Health Policy under the National Health Insurance Scheme, the Extended Programme on Immunisation, and the Essential Health Service Package to ensure the groups attained the best quality of health services.

The Minister, therefore, commended WAHO and the partners for the initiative adding that the meeting would help in taking key decisions, which would go a long a way to improve the quality of life of women, new borns, children and the adolescent.

The project seeks to strengthen transformative leadership capacities in West Africa to encourage improved institutional and government use of health research and evidence in decision making.

WAHO, through the forum was working to ensure regional validation and dissemination of lessons across the ECOWAS member states.

Countries participating in the meeting include Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger, Sierra Leone, and Senegal.

Professor Stanley Okolo, the Director-General of WAHO, speaking at the event, said the meeting drew lessons from three years research effort, which would drive the way forward to strengthen and consolidate the initiative.

He said aside the two-day meeting period, there would be a meeting with WAHO liaison officers, meeting of experts, partners, technical and financial partners, and later on Friday the Ministers of Health from the various countries would converge for the annual assembly.

That, he noted, would run concurrently with the Sahel Malaria Elimination Project with ministers from eight countries, and a high level meeting on vaccinations.

Prof Okolo noted that WAHO was aimed at improving health in the region and as such sought to bring together not only research but policy makers to discuss and ensure that the research findings addressed national priorities.

He noted that results from the countries varied, and urged member states to implement the findings immediately to empower women and address the educational needs of girls within the school going age to improve their economies.

The WAHO Director-General also charged countries in the sub-region to look at gaps in their legal protection framework for women and address the challenges.

Ms Kati Csaba, the Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, commended WAHO and partners for the initiative, adding that improving women, children and adolescent wellbeing was crucial, especially in the period of the pandemic.

She was hopeful that the research would address key responses to the challenges in the sub-region

Source: Ghana News Agency

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