Prioritise newborn care to curb rising deaths – Paediatrician


By Dennis Peprah, GNA, Sunyani, May 05, Dr. Adomah Dwomo Forkuo, a Pediatrician, on Wednesday called for aggressive efforts by community leaders, the media and other health stakeholders to up new born care in the Country to help curb the current surging and alarming trend of neonatal deaths.

     Dr Forkuo, Head of the Pediatric Unit of the Presbyterian Hospital at Dormaa-Ahenkro in the Dormaa Central Municipality of the Brong-Ahafo Region expressed disquiet about available statistics concluding that up to 44 new born deaths were recorded in the Brong-Ahafo Region alone outstripping the national figure of 32 new born deaths out of every 1,000 births and said the disturbing trend needed to change.

    Speaking at an advocacy session organized by the Brong-Ahafo Regional Directorate of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) for traditional queens, heads of religious and civil society organisations and a section of the media, she said infections, prematurity, asphyxia together with lack of life -saving equipment to provide emergency care, were some of the causes of the growing neonatal deaths.

    The event received support from Path, an international non-governmental organization.

 She expressed dismay that the health of newborn babies did not form part of the priorities of families, communities and the nation as a whole as funding in that area were lacking.

     Dr. Forkuo emphasized that there was the need for the prioritization of new born care said 75 per cent of neonatal deaths occurred around the first week of life, and added that “the time a woman went through delivery remained the greatest risk of death and disability”.

    Dr. Timothy Letsa, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of Health, said more could be done and required from local communities in fighting newborn deaths and maternal mortality.

    He emphasised that since quality health was determined by several factors and major health decisions made in households, there was the need for community and opinion leaders to ensure that all practices which were harmful to human health were avoided.

    Dr. Letsa stated that nutrition in pregnant women was critical for quality and smooth deliveries and advised pregnant women to attend regular antenatal and post-natal clinics.

    Mr. Justice Samuel Adjei, the Deputy Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, observed with concern that the Regional figure of newborn deaths recorded in the Region were worrying  and called for more proactive steps to stem it. 

He emphasised that certain outmoded and harmful socio-cultural and traditional practices that impede the proper upbringing and development of children must be avoided.
    Dr. Jacqueline Asibey, a Pediatrician at the Techiman Holy Family Hospital denounced perceptions of societal myths and beliefs that certain illnesses among infants were caused by “spirits”.

    Some of these illnesses, she said were neonatal tetanus, stiffness, diarrhea and jaundice and advised nursing mothers to ensure that they visited health facilities whenever they witnessed any abnormalities in the growing children.

    Dr. Asibey observed that because many mothers delayed in seeking healthcare for their infants, the babies went through severe complications and died avoidable deaths.

    She stressed that giving of herbal enema led to serious infections and diarrhea among infants, and advised parents and nursing mothers to desist from such traditional practices.

    Nana Yaa Adutwumwaa, the paramount queen of Kenyasi Number One in the Asutifi North District of Brong-Ahafo expressed worry about indiscipline among some health workers, and appealed to the Regional health directorate to do something about it.


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