Ashanti Region leads in neonatal deaths

The 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) has identified the Ashanti Region as the leading region with the highest neonatal mortality rate in the country, recording 42 deaths per 1000 live births.

According to the Ashanti Regional Newborn Coordinator, Dr Rita Fosu Yeboah who disclosed this at a Regional Dissemination of Rapid Health Facility Assessment in Kumasi on Tuesday, most of the deaths were due to three factors: Infection, prematurity and asphyxia.

Asphyxia is lack of oxygen, and birth asphyxia happens when a baby’s brain and other organs do not get enough oxygen before, during or right after birth.

Neonatal mortality refers to the probability of a baby dying within the first month of life.

Other factors
Dr Yeboah said majority of the health staff also needed to upgrade themselves to update their knowledge on new diseases and how to handle them to prevent these deaths and called for continuous training for the health staff, particularly midwives.

Besides that, she said, only 24 out of the 54 health facilities in the region had a place designated for newborn babies and most of the facilities did not have adequate equipment to take care of the newborns.

She said most of the big facilities did not have cots and incubators to help pre-term babies to survive.

Dr Yeboah said there was the need for all stakeholders within the health sector to devote more attention to neonatal issues to reduce neonatal deaths the country.

According to her, if all the children should die before their first month, ‘how can the human race survive?’

She thus welcomed the partnership between PATH, a US-based non-governmental organisation, and the Ghana Health Service to assist health facilities within the region to make every baby count.

GHS Director
The Deputy Ashanti Regional Director of Health, Dr Kwasi Yeboah-Awudzi, also underscored the need to improve on the neonatal mortality rate.

He said although the nation was performing well, the same could not be said about the Ashanti Region, which is lagging behind.

PATH is partnering the GHS to implement the ‘Making Every Baby Count Initiative’ (MEBCI) in four regions in the country to reduce neonatal deaths in their facilities.

The implementing regions are Ashanti, Eastern, Volta and Brong Ahafo.

The Deputy Director in charge of Fields Operation under MEBCI, Ms Suzanne Dawson, said the project was a five-year programme which started in September 2013 and PATH would be supporting the GHS to deliver on its programmes on newborns.

She said the objective of the programme was to ensure that by the end of the project in 2018, 90 per cent of newborn babies delivered in the targeted facilities would survive.

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