Over half a million newborns are estimated to die annually from serious neonatal infections, contributing to about 15 per cent of all neonatal deaths globally.
According to expert opinion, clean birth and particularly postnatal care practices are effective in reducing neonatal mortality from sepsis and tetanus.
Chiefs and community members in a group photo with Australian High Commision, RISE Ghana staff and District Director and Health Staff
It is against this backdrop that the Australian High Commission in Ghana is supporting four health facilities in the Upper East Region to improve newborn care practices through the provision of water and sanitation facilities in a project dubbed: “Direct Assistance Programme” (DAP).
The DAP, with funding support of GH¢ 134,057, is being implemented by the Rural Self-Empowerment Initiatives (RISE-Ghana), a local NGO in the Upper East Region.
The beneficiary health centres are Kajiisa, Chuchulga, Nabango and Nyangania located in both Builsa North and Kasena Nankana West Districts respectively.
At a function to inaugurate one of the four health facilities at Chuchulga in the Builsa North District, the 3rd Deputy Secretary at Australian High Commission in Ghana, Claire Moizonier, said Australia is proud to support the project because the programme would contribute to the reduction of newborn and maternal deaths.
Some staff of RISE-Ghana and Chuchulga Health Centre in a photograph with Claire Moizonier, the 3rd Deputy Secretary at Australian High Commission in Ghana after the inauguration
She said the programme would help improve maternal and child health outcomes in the beneficiary health facilities in the region and the country as a whole.
She said the Australian High Commission would continue to support projects and programmes aimed at improving maternal and newborn care practices in the country.
The Executive Director of RISE-Ghana, Mr Awal Ahmed Kariyama, said about 42 per cent of health facilities in sub-Saharan Africa do not have water flowing in the facilities, hence contributing the high incidences of maternal and neonatal deaths.
He said "a lot of children die as a result of infections such as sepsis", noting that the project is estimated to benefit about 115,000 people in the implementing districts.
He explained that the project is also training health management committee members of the beneficiary health centres, adding that the health management committee members were being trained on “infection prevention and control".
He commended the Australian High Commission in Ghana for the gesture and said the project will help the staff in the beneficiary health centres to practice the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) “six cleans”.
The WHO’s “six cleans” include hand washing of birth attendant before birth, clean birth surface, clean perineum, cutting of the umbilical cord using a clean implement, clean cord tie, and a clean cloth for drying.
The Builsa North District Director of Health, Samuel Anyogdem said the project would help the district to achieve the national target to reduce newborn deaths from 32/1000 to 21/1000 by 2018 as part of the Ghana New Born Care Action Plan.
The programme was attended by chiefs, assembly members, health workers, leaders and members of the various women’s groups in the district as well as officials from the Australian High Commission, including the Direct Aid Programme Manager, Ms Vincentia Quatey.