WaterAid Ghana

WaterAid Ghana (WAG), an international non-profit organization, on Monday launched its Healthy Start campaign, aimed at improving the health and nutrition of newborns and children under five years.WaterAid Ghana

The four-year global campaign would, among other things, contribute to reducing newborn and child morbidity and mortality in Ghana, which is often caused by poor access to and non-availability of quality Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services.

Dr. Afia Zakiya, the Country Representative of WaterAid Ghana, said poor hygiene practices along with the absence of clean water and safe sanitation has been found to particularly have a devastating impact on the health and well being of newborns and children and WaterAid Ghana?s Healthy Start campaign, like the National Newborn Health Strategy and Action Plan of 2014 to 2018, was concerned about the health of the nation, as well as that of these vulnerable groups.

According to her, available statistics shows that approximately 19,000 Ghanaians, including 5,100 children under five years, die each year from diarrhoea, and nearly 90 per cent of which could directly be attributed to poor WASH services.

This, she said, was because newborns and children were prone to intestinal infections when exposed to any form of contaminations which may result in severe diarrhoea, leading to high morbidity and mortality rates.

She said these deaths could be drastically reduced and child health improved if attention was given to ensuring that health plans, policies, programmes and practices took WASH as a fundamental component of any public health system, since access to clean water and safe sanitation were basic human rights, and when combined with good hygiene practices, constituted the essential building blocks for good health.

Dr Zakiya said the campaign also draws the attention of stakeholders for inspirational leadership, as well as commitment and dedication to the transformation of the country?s public health system through the commitment of more funding to sustain the gains made over the years.

Dr Chaka Uzondu, the WASH and Health Focal Lead, WaterAid Ghana, said the Organisation believes that the problem would be resolved if all healthcare facilities in Ghana, especially the maternity sections, ensure access to clean and adequate water as well as appropriate sanitation facilities as a matter of urgency.

He said in doing these though, culturally appropriate hygiene promotion measures must be systematically incorporated into areas such as the activities at health facilities, in the curriculum of midwifery and nursing schools and more generally in all educational system to make them acceptability to all members of the society.

He said there must be clear monitoring and evaluation indicators which tracks availability and access of WASH facilities in health institutions and other public places.

Dr Uzondu said the organisation remains committed to its mandate of transforming lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s most poorest communities, including Ghana, and called for inter-sectoral collaboration and a strong effort by government to embed WASH services in all plans to reduce under nutrition, acute malnutrition, preventable childhood diseases and newborn deaths and this required that available funds were used accordingly.

GNA

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