Resource persons and participants at the forum
THE DIRECTOR General of Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, has revealed that one of the greatest challenges contributing to neonatal death in Ghana is the lack of access to health care, particularly in the rural areas.
According to him, even though the current records indicate that in 2017 newborn death dropped from 43 per 1,000 births to about 25 per 1,000 births, the GHS is yet to come out with another survey, probably next year.
Dr. Kuma-Aboagye revealed this in an interview with the media during the 10th Annual Newborn Stakeholders’ Conference held in Koforidua, the Eastern Regional capital, under the theme: “Accelerating Newborn Survival and Wellbeing: Massive Scale-Up of Key Interventions for Impact”.
The 10th annual conference was partnered by representatives from USAID, UNICEF, and World Health Organisation (WHO).
He highlighted that mitigating the challenges of access to health care, for now, does not require a high-tech service, therefore the Ghana Health Service will soon introduce an ICT-based customer care next year to be able to reach pregnant women in the rural areas who do not have access to health care services.
“To be able to reach them even at that far distance, we are going to introduce a technology which is an ICT-based customer care not for the rich but for the poor, to ensure that we create access for them to improve quality of care, and that will be a faster way of making us reach more of our newborns and pregnant women with the resources that we have now,” he said.
The Regional Director of Health, Dr. Winfred Ofosu, expressed worry that the Eastern Region currently does not have a neonatologist, saying this makes the situation even more difficult to deal with, as neonatal mortalities in the region persist.
He said, “We don’t have any neonatologists in the Eastern Region even though we have pediatricians. We also don’t have neonatal nurses, so this forms a gap as far as caring for newborn babies is concerned, and also there is issues of infrastructure, equipment like incubators and some kangaroo mother care, a space where the mothers will rest, but nevertheless, within these challenges, the health care workers are making some good efforts.”
He also indicated that in 2021, neonatal mortality in the Eastern Region was 6.7 per thousand live birth, and in 2020, it stood at 8.2 per thousand live birth, therefore there was a significant improvement from 2020 to 2021 regarding neonatal mortality in the Eastern Region.
On the other hand, a presentation by Dr. Alexander Manu, a lecturer at the School of Public Health – UG, which focused on the “Assessment of Newborn Care Unit in Ghana”, revealed that 25,800 babies died of stillbirth or neonatal death over just three years.
BY Daniel Bampoe