Zonta clubs in Ghana collaborate to address anemia and promote safe pregnancies

25 July 2017

Zonta clubs in Ghana collaborate to address anemia and promote safe pregnancies

During the Zonta International District 18 Conference in April, Governor Anne-Marie French Cudjoe and Zonta International President-Elect Susanne von Bassewitz visited Akramaman, Ghana to see local service projects firsthand and to meet with community leaders. The Zonta clubs of Accra, Accra II, Accra Metropolitan and Tema worked together to address health issues that women, girls and mothers face in their country.

Ghana has a high rate of anemia, a deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood that causes problems like fatigue and dizziness and can lead to heart issues and death. Women have a high rate of anemia and pregnant women are at an even higher risk of becoming anemic.

Thanks to the efforts of the four clubs in Ghana, women are now receiving nutritional supplements to lower this risk and have access to improved care at a local clinic. This progress comes after the clubs developed a service project five years ago in the Dangbe East District of the Greater Accra Region. Together, they launched the Zonta Ghana Anemia Prevention Project (Z-GAPP) and have been tracking its progress since 2012.

Z-GAPP worked with the Dangbe East District’s health medical team to help facilitate this large project and to identify health posts and primary schools to partner with. At this time, they also gathered baseline data so they could monitor progress. The Zonta clubs then raised funds and received corporate sponsorship to provide daily folic acid and iron supplements to women and girls. A health education campaign was launched in conjunction with this to increase awareness about preventing anemia. With the help of other stakeholders, Z-GAPP also refurbished the existing facilities of the Prampram sub-district Maternal Care Health Clinic.

The number of cases of anemia reported is declining, leading to safer pregnancies. The rate of malnutrition reported in school health visits is also decreasing due to children being provided with folic acid and healthy foods.

Additionally, there is now a stronger relationship among health service providers, school authorities, the community and the Zonta clubs. “The project could not have started without a good collaboration between the clubs in Ghana,” said President-Elect von Bassewitz. “It demonstrates how, through working together, we can serve girls and women even better.”

Following this successful project, the four clubs launched another joint service project in February called the Zonta Ghana Safe Motherhood Project (Z-GSMP). It aims to educate women about safe and healthy deliveries. The women learn how to make birthing kits, as many of them do not have access to the necessary tools. These kits include a delivery mat, soap, umbilical cord clamps and Ethyl alcohol. The clubs partnered with Infinity970, a local community mobilization non-governmental organization, and Akramaman Community-based Health Planning and Services Compound (CHPS). Sewing machines and hair dryers were also presented at this time to encourage young girls to learn lifelong vocations for economic empowerment.

The project is on track to produce more than 1,500 birthing kits for distribution beyond Akramaman by 2018. Promotional materials are being developed to increase awareness and share knowledge about safe motherhood and child health. The clubs have indicators set in place and will continue to monitor the success of these programs. Because of the partnerships with organizations, the project can now be extended to neighboring communities within the district to change the lives of more women.