Nina Gumkowski, GHLI Intern
During the 2012 GHLI conference, delegates presented work progress in their individual countries over the past year. Ghana updated conference attendees on their work to “provide safe and effective mental health care.” During the past year, the Ghana delegation has focused on improving mental health services – with a main goal of getting the mental health bill passed. They also wanted to provide mental health care within communities so patients can remain close to home. Ghanaian delegates returned to Yale this year reporting success in these areas. In March, the mental health bill was passed by the parliament and this month, received Presidential approval. A curriculum for basic training in mental health for primary health care providers was developed for recent psychology undergrads entering the workforce so they could become community psychology officers. By discharging patients home to reunite with their families and providing support through psychology nurses in those patients’ districts, the delegates were also able to help decongest overflowing psychiatric hospitals.
The Liberian delegation presented their endeavors to increase utilization of maternal health care services. In 2007, the maternal mortality rate (MMR) of Liberia was reported at 994/100,000 live births and ranked among the highest worldwide. A major contributing factor to the high MMR was the lack of antenatal care (ANC). Many expectant mothers generally access health facilities only after encountering severe complications during labor and or delivery. The delegates set out with two objectives: (1) to increase the number of ANC visits and (2) increase the number of facility-based deliveries. They tackled these objectives using IEC campaigns, clinical outreach services, maternity waiting homes (MWHs), and facility quality management in two counties, Margibi and Montserrado. They started community clinical and outreach activities, awareness and sensitization campaigns (including the billboard pictured) and consultative meetings. There was also a push for critical staff recruitment and training. Their efforts have shown a significant increase in the number of qualified and trained health care workers in these communities.