Health and Lifestyle

Over 10,000 babies die due to breathing abnormality

A total of 10,166 babies died in 2015 due to birth asphyxia, a breathing abnormality at birth.

A total of 10,166 babies died in 2015 due to birth asphyxia, a breathing abnormality at birth.


According to the Ghana Health Service (GHS), this represents 30 per cent of all under-five mortality in the country.

Dr Christabel Enweronu-Laryea, the Head Paediatrician at the Depart­ment of Child Health, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, disclosed this in a presentation.

Birth asphyxia is a health condition that is caused as a result of the failure of a newborn to initiate and sustain normal breathing at birth, and it is also the major cause of convulsion in new­borns.

The numbers of such cases are frightening and a major concern to stakeholders, especially mothers and caregivers, hence the need for focus and interventions during this critical period, to ensure an improvement on the quality of care delivery systems in the country.

Dr Enweronu-Laryea explained that asphyxia could be caused due to problems within the uterus, placenta, umbilical cord and foetus, as well as nature.

She said the situation, though wor­risome, could be averted if pregnant women are monitored properly and given the needed medical attention upon delivery.

According to her, mothers need a lot of preparedness since this could happen around the time before, during and soon after birth and at everywhere and level.

She called for effective monitoring of the labour process in such cases to avoid any complications.

Dr Enweronu-Laryea advised that birth asphyxia be viewed as an oppor­tunity to improve the overall health­care delivery system in the country to prevent these occurrences.

Dr Gloria Quansah Asare, Deputy Director-General of Ghana Health Service (GHS), said the number of mortality cases recorded over the years calls for a strategic plan to be coined to reduce newborn deaths, if not to end it.

The Deputy Director in charge of Reproductive and Child Health at GHS, Dr Isabella Sagpe-Moses, re­vealed that the National Newborn Sub-committee, launched two years ago, had identified 14 health strategies to help address neonatal deaths.

She said the implementation of the strategies has since helped in the slight reduction of the number of deaths.

Minister ofHealth, Mr Alex Segbefia, in a speech read on his behalf, said investing in newborns means invest­ing in the foundations of the future of this nation, the foundations for sus­tainable national growth, development and progress.

He said failure to prevent birth as­phyxia has the tendency to result in some babies who would survive the condition but with permanent brain in­juries of various severities.

These were made known at the fifth annual stakeholders’ conference held in Accra to take stock of the im­plementation of the national newborn strategy and action plan for 2014-2018 and chart the way forward.

The partners for the initiative in­cluded UNICEF, USAID, World Health Organisation, Colombia, Israel, Path, Ubora, midwives, doctors and nurses.

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