Dignitaries at the event listening to a presentation
The United Nations Children?s Fund (UNICEF) together with the government of Ghana has commenced a three day international conference to review the current state of integrated Community Case Management (iCCM) implementation and draw out priorities, lessons and gaps for improving child and maternal health.
The iCCM Evidence and Review Symposium is being attended by over 400 health policy makers and managers, international organisations and university researchers, NGOs, UN agencies, USAID missions.
The meeting would afford participants the opportunity to see best practices in the use of iCCM and assist countries to integrate and take action on key frontline iCCM findings.
Susan Namondo Ngongi, UNICEF Ghana Representative, in her welcome address said the use of iCCM had recorded significant progress in the prevention of childhood deaths in countries that were implementing iCCM.
She, however, observed that despite the increasing trend, there was more to be done in order to increase quality healthcare for new born babies hence the symposium to highlight best practices and the way forward for iCCM.
?The evidence discussed at this symposium will enable us to improve iCCM implementation and achieve better results for children, especially among those who have not been reached by the formal health service delivery system,? said Theresa Diaz, UNICEF Chief of the Knowledge Management Implementation Research Unit.
Cheryl Gopaul Saikali, High Commissioner of Canada to Ghana, said improving the health of pregnant women, newborns and children in vulnerable communities was the priority of the government of Canada.
She added that the country was proud to be the largest contributor to the conference.
?Together with the needed commitment and support from leadership, development partners can together help create polices and use innovations needed to provide quality healthcare for children,? she said.
Minister for Health, Sherry Ayittey, noted that iCCM had contributed to bringing health services to rural people at their doorsteps, and also contributed to the prevention of unnecessary deaths of young children in the country.
?We have less than two years left to achieve Millennium Development Goal 4 to reduce under-five mortality by two thirds. This requires that all known effective interventions are quickly brought to scale in order to make faster progress,? she said.
Dr Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira, Director General, Ghana Health Service said, ?Although in Ghana we have managed to reduce under five mortality from 108 per 1000 live births in 1998 to 82 in 2002, a lot of our children under five years of age are still dying of pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria.?
In sub-Saharan Africa, three easily preventable and treatable diseases which include diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria collectively account for more than half of all child deaths. Additionally, about 45 percent of under-five deaths are attributed to malnutrition.
iCCM uses trained and supervised community health workers to deliver treatment to children who suffer from these diseases living in communities beyond the reach of medical facilities.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri