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Aftermath of medical stores fire: No weighing cards for over 3 years

Central Medical Stores Fire

Health facilities in the country have operated for three-and-half years without a vital child health promotion tool – Child health records, popularly called ‘Weighing Cards’.

This is because the fire that destroyed Ghana’s Central Medical Stores in Tema on January 13, 2015, destroying medical supplies, equipment, and the weighing cards.

Experts fear that the non-availability of weighing cards for over three years is a major setback that threatens gains made in reducing under-five mortality and morbidity in Ghana.

Janet Yeboah, a community health nurse, said that due to this problem, mothers had been compelled to use exercise books, instead of weighing cards, during child welfare clinics.

According to her, this does not help to take useful records since it does not contain the pages and columns as designed for use in the weighing cards.

She added that the weighing cards are designed in such a way that every information, such as injections, has a specified place it is recorded.

“For example, if I take the child’s health record, I look through and know the injection, immunization, and number of times to administer. But because the exercise book is not designed for that purpose, it makes it difficult,” she said.

She explained that this problem has persisted, and requires an urgent solution.

In an interview, Barnabas Yeboah, the National Co-ordinator for Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) Compound, blamed the situation on the Ministry of Health’s decision to design a new and improved weighing card.

According to him, since last year, the Ministry of Health has worked on piloting the new weighing card to be able to ensure maximum effectiveness, as well as easily detect mistakes.

Antenatal and post-natal information

Yeboah added that the new and improved child health record is a combined book that comprises both prenatal and post-natal information.

He explained that printing is ongoing, and the weighing cards would be available for use before the year ends.

Importance of weighing cards

Weighing cards serve as a guide to caregivers on breastfeeding, immunization, home care management, nutrition and family planning, and, therefore, remains a useful tool to promote child health.

However, women who have delivered at various health facilities across the country over the past one year say instead of weighing cards, the name of their newborn babies is written on a piece of paper, which is given to them to use when attending child welfare clinics.

Nursing mothers take their infants to child welfare clinics, popularly called ‘weighing,’ for up to five years to help reduce under-five mortality and morbidity.

Good use of weighing card promotes child health

Good use of the weighing card by mothers fosters child health.

The paper-based child health record, as used by the Ghana Health Service, is given to parents on or just after the birth of their child.

How parents use the weighing card

It is used by parents to record standard health details such as height and weight, as well as developmental milestones such as first words and first time walking.

As the record matures, additional information is added in the form of inserts to aid parents with certain medical conditions, such as Down syndrome.

It is imperative to maintain the record of a child’s health, starting from childhood days.

Monitoring of disease condition using the weighing card

Many factors contribute to the disease condition in the middle age/old age. Also, the family history matters a lot so that a pediatrician can consider these and advise to prevent or delay the onset of familial disease.

For all these, maintaining a child’s health is crucial.

It is essential to read and understand each child’s complete health record since existing health

problems are interrelated with screening and exam results.

All results and follow-up should then be clearly explained to parents.

The cornerstone of good child healthcare is a partnership of children and families with a system of healthcare that ensures families have a continuous, ongoing source of accessible medical care.

About Priscilla Donkor | Reporter

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