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Ghana must pledge to speed up progress on child survival to meet MDG 4

ACCRA, Ghana, 13 September 2013 - Ghana has made progress in reducing under five deaths since 1990 but with an annual rate of reduction of 2.6% of under five deaths, Ghana will not achieve the MDG 4 target to reduce the number of children who die before the age of five according to the latest data on child mortality.

The most recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service with support from partners in 2011 reports that  every year, out of 1,000 children born alive, 82 will not live to celebrate their fifth birthday. What is more, the data show that out of these 82 deaths, 32 will not make it past the first 30 days of life.  The number of newborns who are dying has not changed much in the last decade.

The trend in Ghana is similar to global trends which according to a new report released today “Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed Progress Report 2013” indicates that “despite rapid progress in reducing child deaths since 1990, the world is failing to renew the promise for the most vulnerable citizens” its children.

The 2013 progress report which is the second in the series aims to track progress and promote accountability for global commitments made to children. The report indicates that unless immediate action is taken to address the situation, the world is not likely to meet the MDG 4 on child mortality until 2028.

In Ghana according to the MICS 2011 data twice as many children born to the country’s 20 per cent poorest population are more likely to die than the 20 per cent in the richest quintile. Geographically, the Northern region has the highest number (124) of children who die before age five followed by the Upper West (108) and then the Brong Ahafo regions (104). All these numbers are out of every one thousand children born alive.

Interestingly Women who have had a secondary education are less likely to lose their children than their counterparts who are uneducated. In contrast, the educational level of a woman has no bearing on new born deaths; the same numbers of newborns die before the first 30 days of life irrespective of their mother’s educational level. 

The key to preventing more newborns from dying in Ghana is an integrated strategy that links key interventions across the continuum of care from pre–pregnancy care to the post-partum period. At least two thirds of these deaths could be reduced in Ghana by these interventions. Skilled delivery, early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breast feeding are simple interventions that feed into the strategy These interventions should be part and parcel of integrated health care service delivery at all levels of the health care system.  

“On-going efforts to strengthen the health care system in Ghana is good but we  need to also work on demand, and ensure more rural women use the facilities more often, and in so doing prevent loss of lives” said UNICEF Representative, Susan Namondo Ngongi. “We must make a concerted effort to commit to reverse the situation of newborns in Ghana, everyone must make the pledge vowing to support the progress on child survival. The babies about to be born can’t wait!”  

About Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed

A Promise Renewed is a global movement that seeks to advance Every Woman Every Child – a strategy launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mobilize and intensify global action to improve the health of women and children around – through action and advocacy to accelerate reductions in preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths.

The movement emerged from the Child Survival Call to Action, a high-level forum convened in June 2012 by the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States, in collaboration with UNICEF, to examine ways to spur progress on child survival. Partners from government, civil society and the private sector emerged from the Call to Action forum with a revitalized commitment to child survival. 



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