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Press Release

February 24, 2016

Go for gold: Gold stars for CoC mothers and babies!

24th February, 2016. Accra, Ghana - The Ghana EMBRACE (‘Ensuring Mothers and Babies Regular Access to Care') Implementation Research Team released the preliminary research findings at the EMBRACE International Conference held today in Accra.

The research project has found that women who completed all the essential elements of continuous care from pregnancy to the postnatal period increased from 8% to nearly 50% within a year. A key innovation for this success was the continuum of care (CoC) Card, a one-page educational and recording tool of CoC. When a woman receives one essential service on time, she receives one gold star seal. This has motivated many women to collect all eight stars; these CoC mothers and babies with gold stars have better health outcomes.

The research project was initiated in 2012 as a joint effort of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Ghana Health Service (GHS), the University of Tokyo, Health Research Centres and District Health Management Teams in Dodowa, Kintampo, and Navrongo. Its implementation was supported by System Science Consultants Inc. and Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning (JOICFP). The project targeted 11,100 women who delivered babies during the intervention period (October 2014 – December 2015). The intervention package was 1) CoC reorientation for health workers, 2) introduction of CoC Card to visualize service use, 3) promotion of 24 hours retention at facility after delivery to ensure post-natal care, and 4) promotion of post natal care by home visits.

This conference was held at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA)'s Executive Conference Centre on the 24th of February, 2016.

Representatives and dignitaries from the Embassy of Japan, United Nations, development partners in Ghana, Ministry of Health, regional and district health centres were present. The keynote speaker and representatives were invited also from Kenya, Senegal, Burundi, and Nigeria to promote sharing among African countries, which are making effort to ensure CoC in cooperation with JICA and other partners.

According to the Ambassador of Japan to Ghana, H.E. Kaoru Yoshimura; ‘Ghana EMBRACE Implementation Research Team has designed and implemented an intervention package to strengthen CoC to improve maternal, newborn, and child health in Ghana. It is so far very successful.'

The representative of the Ministry of Health, reiterated: ‘The Governments of Ghana and Japan have a long history of partnership in the health sector. The Japanese government has always been committed to working together with Ghana to achieve global development goals in the sector. The Ghana EMBRACE Implementation Research will contribute towards Ghana's achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the health sector, too'.

Among other objectives, the conference served as a platform to present the overall design and preliminary results of the Ghana EMBRACE Implementation Research, discuss both academic and policy implications, as well as to share strategies and lessons learned from international organizations and other African countries in promoting CoC for maternal, newborn and child health. Above all, the conference highlighted what EMBRACE meant for one gold star CoC mother: ‘The CoC Card helped us a lot. It indicated what we had to do'.

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