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At a glance: Ghana

Despite Ghana's booming economy, the poorest face challenges from malaria to child mortality

© UNICEF Ghana/2011/Quarmyne
Dr. Philomena Nyarko, Acting Government Statistician (centre), and Ghana Statistical Service survey team members gather data for the UNICEF-supported Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) in Accra.

By Madeleine Logan

18 December, 2012, Accra – The poorest rural children are being left behind in Ghana’s booming economy, according to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) report released in November by the Ghana Statistical Service, in collaboration with UNICEF.  The survey found stark gaps between the survival, health and education of children in rural areas in the north of the country compared to those who live in the Greater Accra Region.

Speaking at the release of the MICS report, UNICEF Deputy Representative Rene Van Dongen said, “[Although] Ghana has now graduated to the ranks of a middle income country, we know that a lot of people are still living effectively in a low-income country. As we strive for universal access to basic services and improved equity in key indicators, we continue to see certain areas of the country or particular groups of people who are lagging behind.”

Tackling child mortality

The MICS confirmed that Ghana is making strides in providing lifesaving vaccines and clean water, as well as caring for pregnant women and ensuring they can deliver their babies with the help of a nurse or other skilled birth attendant.

© UNICEF Ghana/2011/Quarmyne
Nearly 12,000 households across every region in Ghana were surveyed as part of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS).

But more needs to be done to ensure that every child can celebrate their fifth birthday. The numbers of children dying before the age of five has not reduced since 2008. The survey confirmed that tackling newborn deaths was key to making sure that more children survived. UNICEF and the Japanese Government are working with the Government of Ghana to implement a newborn care initiative which will help address this problem.

Children of the poorest, uneducated rural mothers are most likely to die before they reach their fifth birthday.  Similarly, people living in the poorest households and in rural areas were the least likely to have access to improved sanitation facilities.

Fighting malaria

Children of the poorest, uneducated rural mothers also are most likely to get sick from malaria. The MICS in Ghana featured a new malaria biomarker, supported by USAID. Nearly every surveyed child between the age of six months and five years was tested for malaria. More that 40% of children tested positive for malaria in the savannah part of Ghana. The expanded focus on malaria also provided data on practices used to treat malaria, the use of specific anti-malarial medications, bednets coverage, and use of intermittent preventive treatment (IPTP) for pregnant women.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2007/Olivier Asselin
Children attend a class in Kotonli Kindergarten in the village of Kotonli in Savelugu-Nanton District in Northern Region.

The survey proved the worth of the door to door Hang Up Your Nets campaign which distributed millions of insecticide treated nets (ITN) throughout Ghana, with the support of the Government of Ghana, UNICEF and DFID.  In the two regions where the campaign had been completed prior to the MICS data collection, ITN ownership doubled from 2008 levels.

Survey picture

Nearly 12,000 households across every region in Ghana were surveyed as part of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey. 

The Ghana Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) was carried out in 2011 by Ghana Statistical Service (GSS). Financial and technical support was provided by the UNICEF, USAID, UNFPA, the Japanese Government, ICF/MACRO, the Ministry of Health/National Malaria Control Programme, and the Navrongo Research Centre. It aims to produce statistically sound and internationally comparable estimates of a range of health, education, child protection and HIV/AIDS indicator.



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