We have come to learn that some diseases cannot be cured but can only be managed over lifetime.

This has grave consequence on the individual’s wellness, productivity, finance and the overall health outcome of the country at large.

Government spends millions of dollars for the importation and/or manufacturing of drugs for the treatment and management of mostly

preventable illness every year but government can actually reduce this burden by adopting the preventive approach which is much more efficient and cost effective.

Preconception care is a very important policy that can make positive impact on our health outcome. Preconception care has been defined by the World Health Organization as the provision of biomedical, behavioral and social health interventions to women and couples before conception occurs. It aims at improving their health status, and reducing behaviors and individual and environmental factors that contribute to poor maternal and child health outcomes. Its ultimate aim is to improve maternal and child health, in both the short and long term.

There is growing research-based evidence for every country to implement preconception care as part of an overall health policy to promote a healthy population. The need for preconception care even becomes more profound given that our preventive health services are too weak to span across a life-course.
World Health Organization reports that 4 out of 10 women report that their pregnancies are unplanned. As a result, essential health interventions provided once a woman and her partner decide to have a child will be too late in 40% of pregnancies. Maternal undernutrition and iron-deficiency anemia increase the risk of maternal death, accounting for at least 20% of maternal mortality worldwide. Up to 35% of pregnancies among women with untreated gonococcal infections result in low birth weight infants and premature deliveries, and up to 10% result in perinatal death. In the absence of interventions, rates of HIV transmission from mother to child are between 15 and 45%. These are alarming health challenges that will eventually affect everyone at some point in time during the course of life. Preconception care will therefore effectively reduce these phenomena should the world including Ghana adopt a collaborative policy on it. It will promote the modification of modifiable behavioral and environmental health challenges, correction of ill-health status of people willing to have a baby and treat or vaccinate against infectious diseases before getting pregnant.

Premised on the works of world researchers and academicians, the World Health Organization has recommended a package for preconception interventions including nutritional conditions, tobacco use, genetic conditions, environmental health and infertility/sub-infertility care prior to conception.

Preconception care has been proven to be effective and it is my strongest intuition that Ghana could also adopt the preconception care initiative as recommended by the World Health Organization. The initiative forms part of a larger framework targeted at addressing modifiable risk factors for noncommunicable diseases.

Ghana has no excuse to not adopt the initiative since other low and middle income countries such as Bangladesh, the Philippines and
Sri Lanka has successfully implemented the initiative with evidence to support its success.
Together we can make Ghana a beautiful and healthy country

Meeting to develop a global consensus on preconception care to reduce maternal and childhood mortality and Morbidity.

Geneva, World Health Organization, 2013
Born too soon: The global action report on preterm birth. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2012

World Health Organization, World Health Assembly, A66/9, 6 May 2013. Draft action plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases 2013–2020. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2013.

For God and Country
Awiagah Sherrif Kwame

About Kwame Sherrif | Columnist

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