From right: Dr. Peter Yeboah, Executive Director of CHAG; Dr. Emmanuel Odame, Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Niyi Ojuolape, UNFPA country representative, and Dr. Patrick Kuma Aboagye
Stakeholders involved in early childhood care and development (ECD) have reiterated the need for increase awareness and investment, particularly towards nurturing care for children three years and below.
According to them, investment in the first 1,000 days in the life of children provides the highest rate of return as adequate care and nutrition from parents, stimulation for proper development of the brain and support services have positive impact on their later development.
The Director of Family Health, Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, who spoke at a stakeholder meeting on the implementation of the Nurturing Care Framework in Ghana, said weak early childhood investment has severe consequences, including poorer health outcomes, fewer learning skills and reduced lifetime earning potential.
“At the individual level, there is a 25 per cent to 35 per cent increase in wages in individuals who receive nutrition and simulation interventions during childhood while the cost at the societal level for those not given the intervention is two or three times the percentage of GDP currently invested in health,” he said, quoting the Lancet & World Health Organisation (WHO) Reports.
He, thus, called for a multi-sectoral approach to the implementation of the framework, which is in response to the global threat of children failing to thrive and the need for strategic integration across sectors to better support holistic child development.
Dr. Emmanuel Odame, Director of Policy Planning Monitoring & Evaluation (PPME), who also spoke on behalf of Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, said failure to address
the nurturing care for children and address concerns beyond survival, then “we are ultimately failing to lay the foundation to build healthy and productive economies.”
He, therefore, indicated that the health authority, among other things, would be working closely with institutions to increase the number of specialised care for newborns.
Dr. Odame pointed out that so far, the ministry, together with Ghana College of Nurses & Midwives, are in the process of coming up with a one-year diploma training for nurses in newborn care.
“The process has just started… We can consider in a year or two we will be able to roll it out because the numbers are low for top level specialists at medical and nursing level,” he added.
Dr. Odame also indicated that the health authority has set up a newborn committee, which is looking at issues with newborn, as well as a national quality strategy steering committee to look at quality of care for newborns.
The Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, said the agency would continue to strengthen its role to promote the health and well-being of all children in Ghana.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri