Six intensive care units for newborns

BY: Arku Jasmine

Newborn deaths account for nearly 40 per cent of under-five mortality in Ghana. Addressing newborn deaths is, therefore, key to Ghana’s efforts at achieving Millennium Development Goals Four and Five that respectively relate to reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.

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To provide optimum care for newborns, to help reduce the high number of babies who die before reaching 30 days of life, intensive care units in six hospitals in the Northern and Upper East regions have been launched by the Government of Japan in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Ghana Health Service. The units are a central pillar of a $2 million partnership to reduce newborn deaths in the Northern and Upper East regions.

Launching one of the six Intensive Care Units for newborns at Savelugu-Nanton Municipal Hospital, His Excellency the Ambassador of Japan, Naoto Nikai, said, “These newborn intensive care units will bring specialist treatment closer to very sick babies in Northern Ghana”.

Before the six new units were set up, there was only one newborn intensive care unit in the whole of northern Ghana at the Tamale Teaching Hospital.

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He said the new units would improve the quality of newborn care at the hospital level, and complement improvements to newborn care in communities.

He explained that last year, the Government of Japan, UNICEF and the Ghana Health Services trained more than 2,500 health workers and health volunteers in how best to care for newborns in communities, as well as distributing 600 basic newborn care kits for post-natal care, and this has contributed to  quality care for babies at the community level.

The UNICEF Representative, Susan Namondo Ngongi, explained that the six hospitals with newborn intensive care units would serve as referral centres for sick babies from other districts.

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“The number of newborn deaths in northern Ghana is 30 per cent higher than the national average,” Ms Ngongi said, adding, “The most common causes of deaths are prematurity, birth asphyxia and infections. These deaths can be prevented with the right training and use of life-saving equipment.”

The Northern Regional Minister, Mr Bede Anwataasumo Ziedeng, said newborn intensive care units would start operations at the Yendi Municipal Hospital, Bole District Hospital and the Tamale Central Hospital. The Bolgatanga Regional Hospital and the Navrongo War Memorial Hospital will also set up newborn intensive care units.

“These intensive care units will help save lives. Babies will not die because there is insufficient equipment to properly treat them.”

Daily Graphic/Ghana