Neonatal mortality in E/R rises

File: Women and their babies Credit UNFPA Ghana

The Eastern Region has recorded 291 institutional neonatal mortality in the first half of 2021, according to official figures.

The figure is an increase of 21 within the same period last year.

Regional Neonatal Focal Person Dr Joycelyn Asibey attributed it to multiple factorial causes.

The neonatal mortality was recorded among new born babies from zero to 11 months in the Eastern Region, pushing prevalence rate to 8.1 per 1,000 live births.

Major cause of the neonatal mortality include infections, asphyxia, prematurity and low birth weight among others.

More critical is how mothers must be hygienic in caring for their babies, especially their umbilical cords which usually gets infected.

Dr Joycelyn stressed on the need for mothers and care givers to stop using Pepsodent, cow dung and other harsh chemicals on the umbilical cord of the baby to quicken its removal.

“We just did our mid-year review and the figures are slightly ahead of what we had same period last year,” she noted. “We intend to work harder especially with all stakeholders who matter to ensure the numbers reduce.”

She added that the issue of poor roads, lack of ambulance system designated for referral of pregnant mothers and inadequate incubators were also a challenge.

“The ambulance used for general care is what is used in transporting pregnant women as well. By the time they have access and move on deplorable road, the situation become worse hence babies are lost.”

The regional health director, Dr Winfred Ofosu, was emphatic community participation was critical to reducing the figures.

READ ALSO:  Neonatal Jaundice: Tema pregnant women face the reality of curtailed pre-natal care

”The figures we have are worrying. We need the queenmothers who stay in the community to become advocates of care for new born babies. The health facility cannot do it alone.”

Programmes Manager for PATH, a non-profit global health organization, Irene Owusu Poku, is seeking to empower queenmothers in the Region to reduce institutional neonatal mortality by 15 percent through its Make Every Baby Count project.

“We can do better at reducing the numbers. Our goal is to ensure that we reduce institutional neonatal mortality. Every life is precious. We must not lose any baby.”

Nanahemaa Adwoa Awindor is leading the queenmothers to champion care for new-borns across the country.

The queenmothers are expected to be advocates in their traditional areas to ensure pregnant mothers are well informed on ante-natal care, care for new-borns and avoid old traditional practices.

More importantly, they have been urged to set bye-laws that can strategically save lives of mothers and new borns.

“Our queenmothers play a vital role in this effort,” she said. “They are great influencers. I know of a traditional ruler who paid for services rendered by commercial taxi drivers who drove pregnant women to health facilities when they were in labor. It addressed a challenge. We had results the figures of neonatal mortality reduced.”

The queenmothers took a pledge to stay committed to the care for the new-borns.

Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals aims at ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age by 2030.

By Yvonne Neequaye||Ghana