According to the United Nations (2016), ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being for all at all ages is essential to sustainable development. The UN indicates that, significant strides have been made in increasing life expectancy and reducing some of the common killers associated with child and maternal mortality. Major progress has been made on increasing access to clean water and sanitation, reducing malaria, tuberculosis, polio and the spread of HIV/AIDS. However, many more efforts are needed to fully eradicate a wide range of diseases and address many different persistent and emerging health issues.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) notes that, maternal mortality has fallen by almost 50 per cent since 1990. In Eastern Asia, Northern Africa and Southern Asia, maternal mortality has declined by around two-thirds. But maternal mortality ratio in developing regions is still 14 times higher than in the developed regions. Only half of women in developing regions receive the recommended amount of health care they need.
As part of its targets, the SDGs seek to:
- By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births.
- By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births.
- By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases.
- By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.
The efforts of the Social Investment Fund (SIF) contribute greatly towards the achievement of these targets. The construction of a Clinic with Portable Water at Kukpali in the Upper West Region is a classic example in this direction. The project which was initiated by the Mother-to-Mother Support Group in Kukpali is aimed at addressing the poor health care provision in Kukpali and the immediate surrounding communities. The nearest health facility to Kukpali is nine (9) kilometers away. However, with the poor nature of roads and the unreliable transport systems, patients are often unable to seek immediate attention in the event of emergency. Pregnant women and children are the worst affected in this situation and these have led to many health complications that could have been avoided.
The construction of the health facility therefore brings untold relief to the people of Kukpali. Community members would not have to travel long distances to access quality healthcare. With improved health of the people, the time spent on their economic activities improves as well. Again, the cost of health goes down with the proximity of the health facility. Cumulatively, as the quality of healthcare improves, so does their economic livelihood. In the long run, these add to Ghana’s efforts towards achieving the SDGs. The construction of a Clinic at Kukpalis is therefore a strategic socio-economic intervention with immense benefits to the local people and the nation at large.