Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health, has urged Member States of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to promote the wellbeing of mothers and children, and ensure that they are protected from avoidable emergencies.
The Minister made the appeal when he formally opened the global meeting of the Network for Improving Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Accra.
The three-day meeting which, was jointly organised by the Network, and the Ministry of Health, Ghana, was the fifth edition with the theme “Sustaining and Scaling Up Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health”.
It was held under the WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and partners from all stakeholder groups.
Over 180 participants drawn from Ghana, Nigeria, India, Bangladesh, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania are attending.
The meeting aims to engage the champions from governments, implementing partners and other stakeholders to reflect on five years of efforts to integrate and systematise quality of care in health systems and maternal, newborn and child health programmes.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said the WHO conceptualized quality of care framework around its provision, experience and associated cross cutting issues.
“We as member countries of the network have a responsibility to promote the well-being of mothers and children, and ensure they are protected from such avoidable emergencies,” he said.
“We can only achieve these if we strengthen our Primary health care systems by ensuring that services are readily available at the right time and of the right quality.
“Our ambition for Universal Coverage will only be an illusion if we are not conscious of quality of care,” he added.
He noted that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) had set ambitious health-related targets for mothers, newborns, and children to be achieved by 2030 in the context of progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
The health minister reiterated that they were key priorities for countries including Ghana, as reflected in the World Health Assembly resolutions on UHC (WHA64.9) and the new Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health (WHA 69.2).
He said quality of health services at all levels and for all services had been a challenge in Ghana and all countries on the Network.
The Minister indicated that both objective and anecdotal assessments had shown that the quality of healthcare services in the country had been described as “inadequate” by providers and clients.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said effective oversight in the quality approaches needed strengthening for significant impact on patient experience and health outcomes.
The past two to three decades had seen considerable efforts and investments in promoting Maternal and newborn health in Ghana; stating that this had resulted in increased coverage in maternal and newborn health indicators.
Dr Patrick Kumah Aboagye, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, noted that the implementation of quality healthcare for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health initiative in Ghana, had provided a platform scale of quality interventions in other aspects of healthcare.
Dr Anshu Banerjee, the WHO Acting Assistant Director-General for Universal Health Coverage said: “We must take every step to integrate quality of care into health service delivery at all levels of care”.
Dr Francis Chisaka Kasolo, the Country Representative for WHO Ghana, said strengthening health systems to provide quality healthcare using a Primary Health Care approach was a sure way to achieving Universal Health Coverage, and the aim of the Network was to ensure that every woman, child, and adolescent received such services.
Mr Ebrima Sarr, the UNICEF-Ghana Deputy Representative-Operations, said his outfit had been working closely with the Government of Ghana, to ensure that no child was left behind, and ensure their protection.
He lauded the Government of Ghana for what it had been doing in the areas of maternal and child healthcare.
Madam Kimberly Rosen, the USAID’s Ghana Mission Director, said a strong healthcare system was at the heart of a stable and prosperous country.