In this age when Technology has become the driving force to well developed economies, countries cannot afford but to find very innovative, efficient and effective ways to ensure their advancement and validity.

According to a United Nations report (The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2015), some countries found it challenging to achieve Goals 4 and 5 of the MDGs because:

• Every day in 2015, 16,000 children under five continue to die, mostly from preventable causes. (Pg. 32)

• Only half of pregnant women in the developing regions receive the recommended minimum of four antenatal care visits. (Pg. 38)

This strengthened the United Nation’s resolve in the development of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Countries who have adopted the SDGs are working towards ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all. For these targets to be met, it is imperative for governments to find new ways of rolling out human transformational projects since the old ways are obviously yielding little or no results.

The government of Ghana is one of the numerous countries committed to the SDGs. Goal 3, which talks about good health and wellbeing, is one that the government, through the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service is working tirelessly to achieve. Two (2) of the very important outcomes under Goal 3 are:

• By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births

• By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortalities to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births

The Ghana Health Service throughout the years has been dedicated to reducing the rate at which mothers die due to pregnancy-related causes, which stood at 319 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2016 (World Health Organization, 2016). They have continuously found innovative ways of implementing projects that will reduce these preventable deaths, thus the launch of the National E-Health Strategy in July, 2010. As explained, the strategy seeks to “systematically deploy Information and Communication Technology to improve the health status of people living in Ghana” (National E-Health Strategy, 2010).

The strategy lends credence to the use of technology to improve and strengthen the current weak health systems by making then more efficient and effective. It has also given rise to Electronic medical record systems like the DHIMS which is used by GHS. This has also necessitated the development of more advanced systems like that of Lightwave eHealth Care Services which was inaugurated in November, 2017. The Northern Regional Health Directorate, in their quest to tap into the national strategy has also committed to “Improving data quality to drive quality health service delivery” in 2018.

Again, the Ghana Health Service has entered into collaboration with Samsung and Good Neighbors International to deploy 2,950 tablet PCs to Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) zones in the Volta, Upper East and Eastern Regions for the capture and management of patients’ information at the primary care level. There is the need for transactional data across board to make timely decisions affecting the health sector and health service delivery to mothers and their babies. It is hoped that these mediums will help minimize if not eradicate operational challenges in managing data of patients, pregnant women, lactating mothers and children inclusive, which will lead to better health outcomes as evidenced in more advanced countries.

All these efforts demonstrate that, Ghana, for a long while now, has recognized the importance of technology for better health outcomes. It is in this framework that GHS, Non-Governmental Organizations and other stakeholders work to improve the lots of mothers and newborns.

For most of these organizations, the idea of innovatively using ICTs in health does not only stem from the supporting E-health strategy of the GHS, but also from various statistics from organizations like the National Communication Authority (NCA) that indicate that there is at least one mobile phone in every household in Ghana. The agency also reported that there were 35,780,667 million voice subscribers by the end of 2017 (Telecom Subscriptions, 2017). This is evidence that one of the easiest ways to easily disseminate information currently is through these mobile devices. This ensures information gets to all, even when they are in hard to reach communities, as long as there is network availability.

Consequently, Savana Signatures in collaboration with Salasan Inc. and Mustimuhw Information Solutions, with funding from Global Affairs Canada, is implementing the Technology for Maternal and Child Health (T4MCH) in three (3) regions of Ghana, Northern, Upper West and Volta Regions. Thirty-three (33) health facilities, ranging from hospitals to health centers, in nine (9) district across these regions are benefiting from the T4MCH. The project seeks to contribute to reduce maternal and child mortalities in the project areas.

Even though the T4MCH baseline data collection which was carried out by Savana Signatures in 2016 confirmed that health workers receive some amount of ICT training in school, respondents acknowledged the need for more vigorous hands-on demonstrations of the use of ICT. The survey highlighted the importance of technology to their field of work. Health workers in the maternal and child health sector need to be manned to be able to generate, package and share knowledge using the ICTs. Technology offers the chance to do the old things through new and interesting mediums. As a result, the T4MCH:

• strengthened the capacity of health workers to communicate maternal and child health information to pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, partners and relatives.

• sends weekly maternal and child health information to mothers, partners and relatives.

The T4MCH is also piloting a community Electronic Medical Record system in one of its facilities to help centralize client’s health information, improve the quality of patient records and make reporting easier for health workers for them to have adequate time to concentrate on the clinical services they deliver to mothers and children.

This comprehensive approach at tackling the needless deaths of mothers and children is to ensure that all the information needs of pregnant women, lactating mothers and their families are met. Countries like Ethiopia and Sri Lanka have successfully reduced their maternal and infant mortalities rates through innovative interventions such as systemic improvements to the provision of health care resulting in more improved usage of these services by pregnant women and lactating mothers. It requires unflinching commitment on the part of government and all to end this.

Information is key if Ghana indeed intends to end these shameful incidences of mothers and babies dying from preventable causes. We need to make a more concerted effort and be committed to it to ensure that life-saving information reaches every nook and cranny, pregnant woman, lactating mother, husband/ partner or relative out there. Currently, it is technology that offers that opportunity of tirelessly doing so at a comparatively minimal cost. Manned with the right information, women and men will see the need to

• attend Ante-Natal clinic when pregnant

• take their medications as prescribed

• deliver at health facilities

• plan their families

The innovative use of technology has undoubtedly become the best option today, for countries like Ghana, who is harnessing all its resources and energies to ensure that no woman or child dies from preventable causes. There is therefore the need for more collaborations, for more organizations to come on board (since this is not a one-man job) to ensure the needed nation-wide effect.

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