The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has underscored the need for more robust efforts to help reduce neonatal mortality to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) on child deaths by 2030.
Madam Anne-Claire Dufay, Country Director, UNICEF Ghana, said there was a need to strengthen capacities of health staff as well as ensuring that mothers and families had access to adequate healthcare.
She said there had been a fall in neonatal mortality rate in Ghana from the 2011 figure of 32 per thousand live births to 25 per thousand recorded in 2017, however, the SDGs target aims to end by 2030, preventable deaths of newborn with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 deaths per thousand births.
Madam Dufay made the appeal in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at the opening ceremony of the Seventh National Newborn Stakeholders’ Conference in Accra.
The meeting on the theme “Reaching Every Newborn, Count Down to 2030; Don’t leave me out,” is being organised by the Ghana Health Service in collaboration with UNICEF and other development partners.
The three-day conference aims at calling attention to the need to expedite health interventions to save newborn babies and to create awareness towards the number of newborn deaths in the country.
Madam Dufay was of the view that strengthening the capacities of health staff would increase the opportunities for them to get specialised skills.
“Again if we really want to achieve the SDG targets, we need to make sure we reach out to the remote areas; and so all efforts would have to be made in that perspective”, she added.
She said UNICEF was committed in supporting the Government through the Ministry of Health, the GHS Ghana and other partners in continuing to save lives and promote the survival of babies in Ghana.
Madam Sharon Cromer, USAID Mission Director to Ghana commended the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the GHS for their leadership in making newborn and child health a priority.
She said the government of Ghana had made a clear commitment to move beyond aid and pave a path to self-reliance; however, the country could not fulfill this vision without first investing in its newborns, and more broadly, in early childhood development.
She said children require foundational pillars to ensure their overall well-being which covers good health and nutrition.
She also mentioned safety and security, responsive care-giving and opportunities for learning, as very key for childhood development.