UNICEF improves maternal and child health with comprehensive guide


UNICEF’s Maternal and Child Health Record Book (MCHRB) has been introduced in the Northern Region of Ghana to serve as a comprehensive guide among pregnant mothers and health practitioners. The record book is playing a role in reducing health and nutrition inequalities, and promoting new-born and child health.

The book serves as a comprehensive early childhood development and nurturing care package, aimed at helping caregivers learn about the useful practices they need to promote the health and development of their children.

The MCHRB contains information on how to maintain and care for mothers and their children. It is designed to guide pregnant and nursing mothers in the stages of women’s pregnancy and childbirth, as well as the child’s health, growth and development up to five years.

With support from the government of Japan, UNICEF has been able to scale-up effective use of the book nationwide. The project was able to train about 3,200 health professionals on MCHRB and reach 740,000 mothers and new-borns to benefit about 6,250 persons in 80 districts across nine regions of Ghana where access to quality healthcare was very low, affecting mortalities as well as nutrition indicators such as immunisation, iron and folic acid supplementation for women, exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding.

Through the project, a total of 985,512 mothers and new-borns were reached, with 4,074 professionals trained on MCHRB in the 79 districts across nine regions to ensure the utilisation of trained staff to implement the knowledge acquired. 800 infanto-meters and 160,000 MCHRB were procured and strategically distributed to targetted health facilities, which helped educate pregnant and nursing mothers on the need to adhere to quality healthcare for their children and ensure their welfare.

8,450 of the new nurturing care framework resource packs and 8,450 supplement flip-chart boards were procured and distributed to the regions, districts and health facilities for the health practitioners to use in helping to provide nurturing care and counselling to caregivers and their children.

An initial baseline assessment was conducted to assess the status of health and nutrition service utilisation in the intervention districts using the district health information management system 2-monthly data from all public health facilities across the 79 intervention districts in eight regions. A total of 15 health and nutrition service indicators from January 2017 to December 2020 were assessed in both intervention and control districts.

An interview held by the B&FT with officials of UNICEF indicated exit interviews were conducted – whereby 2,747 mothers and caregivers of children under five across the 79 project implementing districts in eight regions participated in the exercise.

The results show increased usage of the book, which has helped to curb mortality rates and was also able help caregivers provide the needed support to their children in the regions, which has gone a long way to complement government’s commitment to improving quality healthcare.

The project helped to increase nutrition counselling from 86.8 percent in December 2021 to 89.5 percent in March 2022; and the project also collaborated with the Japanese Organisation for International Cooperation in Family Planning (JOICFP) to train 144 community health workers on essential service delivery. 101 health professionals were also trained in data management and reporting tools for reproductive, maternal, new-born and child health services.

UNICEF also supported the provision of new-born care centres in its operational areas that have helped to improve the lives and well-being of children in the Savannah and North-East Regions, thereby curbing high maternal and new-born deaths. Health workers were also provided with capacity training on how to use the equipment as well as best healthcare delivery. The centres were supported through the China AID of one million dollars, and have gone a long way to strengthen the delivery of healthcare.

The Chief Field Office at UNICEF Bhanu Pathak said UNICEF is committed to promoting the living standards of people within its operational areas to bring about human development.

He noted that in healthcare delivery, UNICEF has been supporting hospitals with the needed health equipment to provide quality healthcare service; while pregnant and nursing mothers are being equipped with the necessary knowledge and information to promote the health and development of their children.

UNICEF is committed to supporting Ghana’s vision of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the areas of maternal and child health, nutrition, education and protection. “We will continue to work closely with Ghana’s government, donors, partners and communities to ensure that the maternal and child health record book is widely available and utilised in all regions of Ghana.”

He noted that the organisation has provided boreholes in some schools, with 25 institutional toilet facilities to enhance the quality of life and sanitation in the various schools and communities.

On the issue of open-defecation, he said the agency launched a campaign to create awareness on the issue for residents to desist from open-defecation which has a damaging effect on human life.

Health and Nutritionist Specialist at UNICEF, Mr. Peter Kwarteng, commended the government of Japan for their support in helping to ensure the health and well-being of mothers and children who play critical roles in society.

He noted that rigorous mechanisms were put in place to ensure value in achieving the project goal of enhancing quality healthcare and community development – adding that with introduction of the book, over 160,000 mothers can now track the growth and development of their children.

The book has helped to integrate monitoring of nutrition, growth and immunisation to ensure maternal and child health in the country.

The Head-Economic and Grant department at the Japan Embassy in Ghana, Sonoda Shohei, commended UNICEF for facilitating implementation of the project to ensure quality healthcare delivery services; and also to help pregnant and nursing mother acquire knowledge of maternal issues through the book.

He reiterated the commitment of the Japanese government’s support to UNICEF in achieving its set goal of initiating humanitarian activities to improve the well-being of mothers, children and other residents in the operational areas to ensure development and economic growth.

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