Ghana raises awareness on high premature births

ghana-health-serviceGhana has been recording as high as about 128,000 premature births every year, and about 8,400 of them dying before reaching the first 30 days of their lives, giving a cause of worry for many doctors.

It is also estimated that around 80 newborn babies die daily in Ghana, meaning that one death occurs in every 15 minutes, amounting to a total of approximately 29,000 newborn deaths every year.

This, the doctors say, is very worrying and they are advocating for cost effective care to save babies from suffering from such calamities of which 75 per cent of the deaths are preventable and could be saved with low cost interventions if the right steps are taken with urgency.

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) in collaboration with the Paediatric Society of Ghana and UNICEF, has organised various programmes to commemorate this year’s World Prematurity Day, which sought to raise awareness on issues associated with ‘preterm’, also known as premature births and to further spread information about how to help and support affected families.

They organized a media visit to the Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), and the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Units (NICU) at the Ridge Regional Hospital in Accra, for a first-hand information on the survival and care of premature babies at the facility.

The World Prematurity Day is observed globally on November 17 each year,

Dr Hillary Andoh, the Head of the Neonatal Department for Child Health at the Ridge Regional Hospital, said premature births was an enormous global problem that was exacting a huge toll emotionally, physically and financially on families, medical systems and economies.

She said it is important to make deliberate efforts to teach health workers and mothers on how to properly take care of such babies as their fragile bodies were very prone to various forms of complications which include proper respiration, keeping body warm temperature, blood sugar levels and being free from infections.

She said KMC is a homegrown method of caring for premature and babies with very low birth weights, to foster their health and well-being by sustaining their body temperature, promoting exclusive breastfeeding, promoting infection prevention and bonding.

It involves the “skin-to-skin positioning of infants upright between the mother’s breast or the chest of an adult; and the Hospital, Dr Andoh said, could currently boast of a higher survival rate of preterm babies since its adoption and practice of the KMC since 2013.

Dr Andoh said the benefits of the KMC include the faster growth and early discharge of babies compared to the incubator system, fostering their health and wellbeing by ensuring effective respiration, temperature and blood sugar levels controls, as well as exclusive breastfeeding, infection prevention and parental bonding.

She appealed to women to access health care before and during pregnancy as a vital way of preventing preterm births.

Ms Lina Boateng, a Senior Staff Nurse, said the mothers at the KMC units were counselled to prepare them psychologically, emotionally and physically, and are also given the required education to be able to handle, feed and monitor their babies well throughout the period and even after their discharge from hospital.

She said follow-ups are done to ensure that mothers access postnatal care to ensure further monitoring of the health and growth rate of babies.

Source: GNA

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