Childhood immunization in the Upper East Region has over the past three years consistently declined, and immediate action is needed to reverse the trend, Dr. Winfred Ofosu, the Upper East Regional Director of Health Services, has said.
“Immunization remains one of the most effective interventions globally for the control of infectious diseases, and if swift remedial action is not taken to vaccinate all eligible children, the accumulated unvaccinated children over the years, would constitute a huge susceptible population for epidemics of vaccine-preventable diseases”, he said.
Dr. Ofosu said the region recorded 87.2 percent coverage in 2015; in 2016 the figure recorded was 79.2 percent; and 78.7 percent occurred in 2017, adding that the “District coverage for immunization in 2017 ranged from only 53.3 percent in the Kassena Nankana Municipal to 107 percent in the Pusiga District.”
Dr. Ofosu was speaking at a two-day meeting of the 2017 Health Performance Review of the Region held under the theme: “Building Sustainable Partnerships for Strengthening Health Systems to Achieve Universal Health Coverage.”
The meeting attracted health professionals from all thirteen Districts of the Region, officials from the Ministry of Health, and the Brong Ahafo Regional Health Directorate, municipal and district chief executives, religious and traditional leaders.
Dr Ofosu said improved maternal and child health remains a national priority adding that antenatal care coverage increased from 76 percent in 2016 to 77.1 percent in 2017 with 51.1 percent of registrants reporting for care during the first the first three months of pregnancy.
He said skilled delivery declined over the last three years from 74.2 per cent in 2015 to 70.1 per cent in 2016 and 69.8 per cent in 2017, while maternal deaths increased from 30 in 2015 to 36 in 2016 and 44 in 2017.
“Neonatal death rate increased from 2.0 per 1000 in 2016 to 7.7 per 1000 Live Births (LB) in 2017. Favourably, stillbirth rate declined from 1.6 in 2016 to 1.3 per 1000 LB in 2017. The region continues to record high adolescent pregnancies, and in 2017 a total of 16.5 percent of registered pregnancies were adolescents aged 10 – 19 years,” he said.
Dr Ofosu said the Region has made good progress in malaria control because the proportion of suspected malaria cases tested before treatment increased from 86.4 percent in 2016 to 93.8 in 2017; while fatality rate for children under five years declined consistently from 0.72 percent in 2015 to 0.51 and 0.3 percent in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
He said 144 suspected meningitis cases were recorded in 2017 and 44 cases were confirmed.
Mr Frank Fuseini Adongo, the Upper East Deputy Regional Minister, said the chosen theme for the event highlighted an important area, “by the agreed Universal Health Coverage (UHC), and is working towards ensuring access to quality healthcare services and safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all by the year 2030.”
He said the target under goal three of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was “definitely ambitious and multi-tasking. A host of stakeholders or partners are required to provide the finances, human capital, ownership and coordination among others to realize the target.”