Ghana: Mobile Phone - an Effective Tool for Enhancing Community Health Systems
The OXFAM/ISODEC mobile phone distribution initiative forms part of a maternal and child health care project known as the Top Project which is funded by OXFAM and implemented by ISODEC in collaboration with two Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and the Ghana Health Service. Four communities in the Upper East Region namely Gia and Naaga in the Kasena Nankana West District, and Sumbrungu and Zuarango in the Bolgatanga Municipality are benefiting from the project.
The Top project aims at plugging some of the gaps in maternal health care delivery in the country in order to help reduce the high maternal mortality rate. At a project review meeting recently held in Bolgatanga it was refreshing to learn how the support and training of Community Health Committees (CHCs) and TBAs for rights-based advocacy and education help address some of the negative attitudes and cultural barriers which have hitherto hindered acceptability and access of orthodox health care services. The TBAs and CHCs took on critical issues such as taboos that prevented women and children from eating meat, the attitude of women not wanting to deliver at health facilities, the "Landlord is not in the house" factor, among other things.
In a region where 80% of the people live in hard to reach rural communities, the role of TBAs and community health volunteers such as CHCs and mobiles remain crucial in ensuring that essential health services and education reach the people. And such efforts as the collaboration between OXFAM/ISODEC and the Ghana Health Service certainly inspire and make one to look into the future of health care delivery in the Upper East Region and the nation at large, particularly maternal and child health, with some optimism.