The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has appealed to the general public and stakeholders to support the fight against newborn deaths in the country.
Statistics show that newborn deaths reduced from 32 per 1,000 deaths in 2011 to 25 per 1,000 in 2018. The GHS has attributed the feat to the National Newborn and Child Health Advocacy and Communication Strategy, which was developed in 2014 to reduce newborn mortality.
Speaking to Class News’ Joshua Kodjo Mensah on the sidelines of a press briefing in Accra on Friday, 31 August 2018, Chairperson of the National Newborn Committee, Dr. Isabella Sagoe-Moses, said although Ghana has made giant strides in reducing newborn mortality, a lot remains to be done to eliminate the canker.
She said: “For over 20 years, we hadn’t seen any decline in newborn deaths and that led us to develop the National New Born Strategy and Action Plan which we started implementing in 2014. Thankfully, we are now seeing some decline.
“In 2017, we had the Maternal Health Survey and we’ve moved from 29 per 1,000 live births which was the figure for 2014, to 25 which is the most significant decline we’ve seen for several years… We think that the strategies that we started implementing are beginning to yield some fruits but we do know that there’s still a lot of work to be done.
“The first strategy is about ending now and we’ve started putting together the second strategy to see what we need to do differently. So, while we are tackling the health facility issues, we’ve also gone out into the communities and that is where the use of our champions comes in.”
She also advised new mothers to seek medical attention for newborns, at least, twice in the first week, since that week was a critical period for the baby.
“Newborns don’t behave like older children; when they are sick they don’t show it very easily, the only thing a newborn may do is that it becomes quiet and it doesn’t cry that much and then we think this baby is well-behaved, it doesn’t worry the mother; meanwhile, the baby is actually dying.
“A newborn may not necessarily run a high temperature, instead, they will go cold and you’ll think all is well but they are dying, and, so, it is very difficult for the untrained eye to detect when a newborn is sick and the first one week is the critical period. So, we have changed our policy of bringing the baby to the hospital two weeks after delivery, now, we are saying that every newborn should be seen at least two times by the doctor within the first one week because when you think they are well, they are not well.”