Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health, has called for cross-sectoral collaboration among member states to effectively combat health challenges, particularly maternal and child health issues.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said working cross-sectorally allowed for composite planning and execution of maternal and child health initiatives, and as well improves access to health services and efficiencies for holistic development.
“Cross-sectorally requires breaking down financial and territorial barriers and other self-centred conduct which impede progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
The Minister made the call on Tuesday in Accra at the opening ceremony of the third ECOWAS Best Practices Forum in Health held under the theme: “Promoting Multi-Sectoriality to Achieve Maternal, New-born, Child, Adolescent and Youth Health-Related Sustainable Development Goals”.
The forum brought together experts from Ministries of Health, regional health practitioners, researchers, research institutions among others to deliberate on charting a way forward in ensuring good health for the citizenry.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said improvement in maternal, new-born child, and adolescent health was a global concern because the menace affects the core of the population which form the nation’s work force.
The Minister said government has over the years developed and implemented many health interventions designed to optimise the health of the population for sustained national development.
He said life-course approach to health care was an invaluable investment that had many benefits for not only the health of the individual, but the socio-economic development of the country, sub-region and the world.
“Good health is not only a human welfare issue, but a fundamental objective of socio-economic development and as such no single Ministry, Department or Agency can ensure the health of a nation, it requires the concerted effort of all stakeholders”, he added.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said the advent of the SDGs and other initiatives such as the Health-In-All Policy and intervention has led to an integrated approach to healthcare delivery of every country.
He said it is imperative for countries to find points of convergence in policies, strategies, interventions, information and resource sharing to maximise impact and optimise the use of resources for investment in other areas of national development.
Prof Stanley Okolo, the Director General of the West African Health Organisation, said statistics showed that maternal and child mortality rates in West Africa were among the highest in the world, despite a number of interventions that have been implemented over the years.
Prof Okolo said as a result of the high rates, the ECOWAS Assembly of Health Ministers in 2014 adopted a resolution to establish the ECOWAS Best Practices Forum in Health to facilitate the documentation, dissemination and scaling-up of effective and proven practices in the health with emphasis on mothers, new-borns, adolescent and young people.
He said the forum would focus on best practices in Family Planning, Maternal and New-born Health, and Youth and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health identified in the areas of good governance and accountability, public-private partnership, traditional medicine and non-communicable diseases.
Madam Carell Laurent, the Acting Mission Director, USAID West Africa, said the Sub-Sahara region has made significant strides in attaining the SDGs, but more efforts was needed especially in maternal mortality.
She said USAID would continue to collaborate with its partner and ECOWAS to strengthen community-based results on health delivery and urged member countries to make the best of the forum and share best ideas on improving delivery within the region.