Healthy Mother, Healthy Child
Goals 4&5: Reduce Child Mortality & Improve Maternal Health
In Ghana, the means by which Millennium Development Goals Four and Five are targeted are often closely linked. For more than 50 years Salvation Army clinics across the country have provided medical help to see expectant mothers through their pregnancies before offering a safe and hygienic place in which they can give birth and get the medical help they need. The clinics then have the dual purpose of seeing the babies through the perilous early years while ensuring the new mothers keep well.
IT was Christmas morning and the watchman at The Salvation Army’s Urban Aid Clinic, Accra, went to open the gates. He noticed a bundle in the middle of the path and bent to pick it up to put it in the rubbish. To his astonishment it wriggled in his hands and when he looked closely he saw the face of a newborn baby.
|A day in the life of a typical midwife at The Salvation Army’s Urban Aid Clinic, Accra, Ghana|
7 am – Arrive at clinic
8 am – Prayers with staff
8.30 am – Prayers with patients
8.45 am – Begin ward rounds and registration – check the temperature, blood pressure, weight and medical history of mothers-to-be and set up rooms for the clinic. Bag up medicines.
9.15 am – Start antenatal clinic (for 60 to 120 women) by providing education about health issues. Monitor labour ward – examine patients and give whatever advice and treatment are needed. Help with deliveries (usually between three and six per day) as required.
10 am – Short break for breakfast
10.15 am-1.30 pm – Continue with antenatal clinic and/or deliveries
1.30 pm-2.30 pm – Clean up, complete accounts and replenish supplies for the afternoon shift
3 pm – Hand over to afternoon shift and leave for the trek home on public transport
This is becoming an increasingly common occurence for staff at The Salvation Army’s clinics and centres in Ghana. Here was a baby boy whose mother, unable to cope because of any number of reasons, did the only thing she knew how and put the boy at the gate of people she knew cared. He was one of the fortunate ones – many desperate mothers dispose of their babies in places where they are never found in time.
The child was bathed, fed, dressed in new clothes and wrapped securely in a knitted blanket.
Contact was made with the local police and a frantic search started for the mother who, having recently given birth, would have been desperately in need of medical attention. In the meantime, Lucy, one of the staff members (pictured above with the baby), agreed to take the child and look after him in her home.
The mother was never found but the baby is now a well-loved member of the family of the nurse who took him in. Lucy named the baby Joshua after her husband, who tragically had been shot by armed robbers years previously.
THIS mother and daughter (right) were admitted to the Ba Salvation Army Child Care Training Centre. The mother was not able to breastfeed and had already lost a previous child due to malnutrition. At three months old the little girl weighed the same as when she was born. She was dehydrated and had infections. It emerged that, out of desperation, the mother had tried to feed the child with cocoa. She did not know where she could go for help.
Someone who had been admitted to The Salvation Army’s child care centre in the past advised the mother that she could find help there. The staff treated the baby’s infections and gave her formula milk.
Gradually things improved and, as could be seen on her growth card, the child began to recover. In three weeks she gained a lot of weight.
This picture of the child and mother was taken three days before she was discharged. The mother came back to the clinic regularly for follow-up care and support until her daughter was old enough to eat normal food.
A short history of Salvation Army mother and child health care in Ghana
Salvation Army medical work began in Ghana in 1950 when Captain Agnes Cage was sent to Begoro. The work began in a small way, with the captain staying at the Presbyterian Mission and helping with home deliveries.
In 1954 a maternity ward was opened and soon afterwards an outpatients clinic was commenced.
The next opening was in Boso, where a clinic operated from 1954-1981, when it was taken over by the government.
The next clinic to open was at Ba in 1960, in response to a great need. Then in 1964 a babies’ home was opened at Anum, five miles from Boso. At Anum, motherless babies were cared for until the age of two, when they were returned to their relatives in their home village.
Wiamoase Clinic was opened in 1969, and Duakwa in 1972.
In 1980 Wenchi Clinic was opened and in 1981 Anum Babies’ Home was relocated at Ajumako-Ba. The emphasis of the work changed at Ba and it became a childcare training centre. Maternity work was started at Anum in place of the babies’ home.
In October 1987 a community rehabilitation programme was started at Duakwa, on a compound shared by the clinic.
The local chief and elders at Sofa first approached The Salvation Army in the mid-1970s with regards to opening a health facility. A visit in 1987 highlighted concerns about sanitation, water and roads. The local community addressed these issues so, in May 1990, Lieutenant Vincentia Ahlidza moved there and the work started.
In November 1996, in collaboration with other non-governmental organisations, an outreach mobile clinic was started in the Komkomba market area of James Town. With the support of Unicef a child care clinic was opened.
At the beginning of 1997 papers were signed to pass ownership of Urban Aid Clinic, a maternity and child welfare clinic situated in the Mamobi area of Accra, to The Salvation Army.
Because of low patronage at the clinic and staffing problems, Sofa Clinic was closed in October 2004 but, with the assistance of the Ministry of Health, the employment of a state registered nurse and the secondment of a midwife it was reopened in July 2005.