Maternal mortality ratio is still as high as 319 per 100,000 live births and the neonatal mortality rate is 29 per 1,000 live births, the Health Minister has disclosed.

Kwaku Agyeman-Manu said there are still significant variations in health and nutrition status across wealth quintiles and geographic regions in Ghana.

He said he was committed to making every effort to improve the maternal and child health status in the country.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have signed a new technical cooperation agreement to produce combined Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Record Book for Ghana.

This is to improve Continuum of Care for mothers and children.

The Signing Ceremony which took place at the Ministry of Health was to cement an official agreement between Ghana and JICA.

The discussion of producing a combined Record Book that had gone on between the MOH, JICA and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) for some time.

This technical cooperation is aimed at supporting the development and national rollout of a combined Maternal and Child Health Record Book for use in all health facilities throughout the country.

The Minister thanked, JICA and the Japan government for their continuous support to the country’s development agenda.

The Record Book will include all the relevant information and data concerning mother’s progress during pregnancy, state of delivery, immunization records and health checkup records for the child.

The design of the booklet has also been strategically made to empower women, engender family support, especially male involvement in maternal and child healthcare and also make recording by health workers more efficient.

The initiative will also seek to improve the nutrition behaviors and status of mothers and children through nutrition counselling by using the book.

He intimated that there is no doubt that, Ghana has made good progress in recent years in many social development indicators including health.

However, he added that the country failed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 by 2015 – according to the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey.

“I found the draft version of this new booklet containing more information on essential maternal and child health services and health education messages in the form that can be easily understood by mothers and family members.

“Not that alone, but also, the move to integrate several existing booklets into one as targeting at reducing the cost of production, and enhancing the supply and rights issues regarding the use of the booklet was in the right direction,” he added.

The combined Record Book, he indicated would again, has the ability to address procurement, legal frameworks and guidelines that will ensure the sustainability of the support.”

The Director-General of Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, said “the aim of integrating several existing Maternal and Child Health Record books will significantly improve the maternal and child health service delivery and outcomes.

The book, he said, is designed to link the health records of mother to her child from pregnancy till the child attains the age of five.

“It also addresses issues such as nutrition, growth monitoring and promotion, and health education in a more focused and illustrative way.”

The Minister disclosed that the combined book will be launched by MoH and GHS in January 2018 and nation-wide rollout will commence afterward with close to two million copies to be produced initially to start with.

The Combined Maternal and Child Record book would be given at no cost to mothers and children.