The Mother Baby Friendly Health Initiative (MBFHI) programme in the Upper East Region has contributed to the reduction of maternal mortality in the Region, Dr Winfred Ofosu, the Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has said.
The MBFHI is a three-year quality improvement programme which started in 2016 and is being implemented in Ghana, Tanzania and Bangladesh by the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) with funding support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In Ghana, the project is being implemented in four selected districts in the Upper East Region, the Bolgatanga Municipal, Bawku Municipal, Bongo and Kassena-Nankana West districts.
The initiative is aimed at advocating for early breastfeeding within 30minutes after birth, promoting exclusive breastfeeding and ensuring the wellbeing of lactating mothers and their babies.
It ensures birth certificate registration, strengthens the leadership and collaboration for maternal and newborn health services and improves facility based quality care for both mother and baby.
Speaking to the media after a stakeholder engagement to assess the project, Dr Ofosu said maternal deaths in the selected districts reduced in the Bongo District for example as there was no maternal death recorded last year.
"If you look at the Regional Hospital this year, it has reduced the number of maternal deaths, only one was recorded and it is the same with Kassena-Nankana West Municipal."
The Director said the impact was the same at the Bawku Presbyterian Hospital because "Over the period of the project, they have actually reduced maternal and perinatal deaths," he said
The initiative was implemented in 24 health facilities made up of three hospitals, 21 health centres and 82 Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) zones.
Dr Ofosu said the project involved the training of health staff on World Health Organization (WHO) standards adding that the project was scaled up to the rest of the districts in the Region.
He said the Navrongo Health Research Centre (NHRC) was contracted at the initial planning stage to assess various regional needs prior to the implementation of the project.
Dr John Williams, the Principal Investigator in charge of Evaluation of the MBFHI study, said the study was based on "Every Mother, Every Newborn (EMEN) quality standards."
He said the EMEN standards included evidence-based Ante-Natal Care, evidence-based care during labour and childbirth, evidenced-based safe Post Natal Care for mother and newborns, human rights, dignity and respectful care for mother and baby.
Dr Williams said "cross-cutting" issues such as governance, physical environment, qualified and competent staff, essential drugs, supplies, functional equipment, diagnostics, health information systems, and services available for continuity of care, formed part of the EMEN standards.
He said assessments have been made in some facilities prior to the implementation of the project adding that "perinatal mortality declined in both the intervention and comparison areas but the reduction at the comparison areas were not statistically significant."
"However, when we compare the rate of decline in the intervention and comparison areas, we find that the pace of decline in the intervention area is faster than the pace of decline in the comparison area and this finding is very significant."
He recommended among others that the Ghana Health Service develop an integrated and consolidated unified Maternal, Newborn and Child Health quality improvement model for the country that could be used by all agencies.