Tuesday, October 6, 2009

MOHSW holds seminar for NAMs on RCH issues

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare recently organised one day seminar for National Assembly members on Reproductive and Child Health issues.

The aim of the seminar was to share with the National Assembly members, the Reproductive Health policy, key strategies and activities with a view to ensuring greater involvement in its implementation (towards accelerating the reduction of maternal, new born and childhood mortality and morbidities thus contributing to achieving the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5). It also aimed to actively engage parliamentarians as advocates and champions of maternal, new born and child health issues within their respective constituencies. It was held at the RVTH conference hall, Banjul.In his keynote address, Dr. Bekai Camara, the director of Health Services at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital, said that pregnancy and childbirth (events that are expected to bring joy and happiness) continue to cause death and misery up to the present day. He noted that in Africa, at least 1.12 million babies die in the first month of life, usually in the first week of life, of which two-third occur during the first 24 hours of life, accounting for over one quarter of under-five mortality in the region. Camara also noted that improving Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) through a continuum of care requires several important components, namely political commitment, involvement of all stakeholders, appropriate rights-based strategies, partnership, adequate investments and time. In order to strengthen the new-born component in maternal and child health strategies, he said, it is desirable to follow a step-by-step process that engages communities to generate ownership, co-ordination and concerted efforts, build partnership with all relevant stakeholders, and invest in training, research and supportive supervision. “At the country level, The Gambia has experienced significant achievements towards the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 with the improved strategic interventions linked with the integration of new-born health into Reproductive and Child Health services e.g. the Emergency Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (EMNCH) Strategy, IMNCI and Community IMNCI,” he added.He said that trends in maternal, new-born and child mortality have witnessed significant decline although current levels remained unacceptably high. Camara further said that the significance of male participation in all spheres of Reproductive and Child health services need not be overemphasised given their role as decision makers, backed by certain harmful socio-cultural benefits and practices with negative consequences on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. For her part, Ramou Cole-Ceesay, the assistant director, Family Health and Disease Control, RVTH said that it is time to create a new paradigm that shifts the responsibility for not only planning and implementation but also for monitoring and evaluation to those who input and live with the circumstances, culture and context of the concerned communities. She added that the weak link in most systems is the lack of synergy between the health professionals and wealth of knowledge and skills of the communities and constituencies that are so essential to successful interventions.

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Violence against women is a worldwide yet still hidden problem. Freedom from the threat of harassment, battering, and sexual assault is a concept that most of us have a hard time imagining because violence is such a deep part of our cultures and lives.