Maternal mortality ratio in the Upper West Region has reduced from 126 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015 to 86.9 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2016.

However, immunization coverage declined from 40 per cent in 2015 to 38.2 per cent in 2016.

Dr Winfred Ofosu, Acting Upper West Regional Director of Health Services, made this known during the 2016 half-year performance review conference in Wa.

He said there was an increase in antenatal care coverage from 41.7 per cent in 2015 to 44.6 per cent in 2016 while skilled delivery coverage increased from 30.5 per cent in 2015 to 33.2 per cent in 2016.

Dr Ofosu said family planning among women in the fertile age category recorded an increase of 26.3 per cent in 2016 as against 23.9 per cent in 2015.

Adolescent pregnancy also saw an increase from 12.3 per cent in 2015 to 12.9 per cent in 2016, he said.

He said performance in some critical areas was below expectation and called for the need for them to find the causes during the forum and seek ways to improve performance by close of the year.

The Upper West Regional Director of Health Services said the purpose of the performance review conference was to enable them assess their performance in all service areas to determine whether they were on track to achieving their set targets.

It is also for them to identify their strengths, weaknesses and collectively re-strategize to meet the expected performance targets.

This year’s half year performance review conference was under the theme: “Strengthening community level health systems – successes, challenges and the way forward”.

Dr Ofosu said the choice of the theme was underpinned by the critical role community health systems play in improving health outcomes in the household and the community at large.

He said coming on the heels of the just ended phase two of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) supported project on maternal and neonatal health services improvement, it was also to remind them of their collective responsibility to sustain the gains made through the project implementation.

He said at the community level were the various determinants of health conditions which facilitate the transmission and distribution of diseases.

“These include, lack of antenatal care, inappropriate feeding practices, poor sanitation, open defecation, unimmunized children, unsafe water sources, poor nutrition, lack of family planning, unsafe sex and non-use of Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) among others”, he said.

Dr Ofosu said all these occurred at the community level and facilitated ill health and death, adding that building strong community level health systems to address these determinants would greatly improve health outcomes.

Alhaji Amidu Sulemana, Upper West Regional Minister, said the region was still faced with myriads of health challenges such as malaria, child survival and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, cerebrospinal meningitis among others, adding that government was still investing in the health sector to address these challenges.

He said the provision of 213 functional Community-Based Health Planning Services (CHPS) compounds currently pushed health coverage from 14.6 per cent to 53 per cent of the region’s population.

Alhaji Sulemana said during the period under review, the region realized some improvement in the number of doctors in the area – from 12 in 2013 to 28 in 2015 and to 48 at the end of the mid-year in 2016.

The Regional Minister said the proportion of clients covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) during the period under review was 96.4 per cent against 94.8 per cent in 2015.

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