Evelyn Sunnu (inset), Paediatric Nurse Specialist at the UHAS, addressing some staff of HTH at the launch
Evelyn Sunnu (inset), Paediatric Nurse Specialist at the UHAS, addressing some staff of HTH at the launch

Ho Teaching Hospital celebrates Neonatal Jaundice Week

The Paediatric Society of Ghana, in collaboration with the Ho Teaching Hospital (HTH), has celebrated this year’s Neonatal Jaundice Week celebration at Ho, in the Volta Region.

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The celebration was on the theme: ‘Newborn jaundice and exclusive breastfeeding; midwives and nurses lead’. Launching it, a Paediatric Nurse Specialist at the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), Evelyn Sunnu, said neonatal jaundice occurred in 60 per cent of term babies and 80 per cent of preterm babies.

She revealed that globally, more than 100,000 term and preterm babies died each year as a result of jaundice. Mrs Sunnu said Ghana recorded a total of 29,068 cases of neonatal jaundice between 2015 and 2019.

She said the prevalence of neonatal jaundice over the period was 66 per cent, based on the knowledge and determinants of the disease. The paediatric nurse specialist said there was the need for hospitals to form support groups to discuss neonatal jaundice at their meetings for early detection and encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies to avoid conditions of neonatal jaundice.

Further, she said nurses and midwives should take up home visits after delivery to monitor babies. “Policy makers must ensure that their policy to promote neonatal jaundice awareness is properly implemented,” Mrs Sunnu added.

She said superstitions such as drying babies with neonatal jaundice and dropping breast milk in their eyes must be dispelled and mothers must be encouraged to bring their babies to the hospital for early attention.

Morbidity

The acting head of Paediatric and Child Health Sub-Budget Management Centre at the HTH, Dr Bright Richard Danyoh, said for the past two consecutive years, newborn jaundice had been the top-most cause of morbidity in the Paediatric and Child Heath Department of the HTH.

Some staff of HTH at the launch

Some staff of HTH at the launch

He said myths, misconceptions and miscommunication even among healthcare workers persisted and that was inimical to efforts to address the problem. “Hence, we must soldier on and we must not be weary,” Dr Danyo added.

The Nurse-in-Charge of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, Gifty Hiadze said the unit recorded 368 cases of neonatal jaundice in 2021; 271 cases in 2022 and 229 cases in 2023.

Over the period, she said one death was recorded in 2021, two in 2022 and two in 2023. “The low death rate is an indication that our advocacy is working,” Mrs Hiadze added.

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