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Deaths occurring among newborns, especially babies less than a month old continue to be high in the country although evidence shows a reduction in under five mortality.
Despite a 20 percent reduction in under five mortality between 2008 and 2014, 90 newborns die daily in the country, with as many as 30,000 newborns losing their lives annually before reaching the first month of their life.
The major causes of these deaths are complications from preterm births, complications during birth, breathing difficulties just after delivery and infections.
This puts the country in the unfortunate situation of missing out on the Millennium Development Goal 4 target of reducing child deaths to 40/1,000 by September 2015.
Stakeholders at the newborn forum have, therefore, called for immediate action to be taken to curb the avoidable deaths, as the knowledge and tools to reduce at least two-thirds of these deaths are available in Ghana.
The two day stakeholders forum themed: ‘Born Too Soon, Born Too Small; Help Us Live’ brought together parliamentarians, development partners, representatives from civil society, traditional and religious bodies and the media to review progress made to improve newborn health and well-being and renew their commitment to the quality of services they expend.
Minister of Health, Alex Segbefia, opening the forum, said the neonatal mortality rate of 29/1,000 live births is a serious blot on the country’s development efforts, calling on all to see the moral and ethical responsibility of ensuring newborns survive.
“When we invest in newborns, we are investing in the foundations of the future of this nation, the foundation for sustainable growth, development and progress; we will be helping to create a future for entrepreneurs and skilled work force, a stronger consumer base, more prosperous communities, stronger, healthier and more equitable societies in Ghana,” he said.
Dr Gyikua Plange-Rhule, paediatrician and senior lecturer at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, said babies below 36 weeks can survive if the necessary interventions like the Kangaruu mother care, simple breastfeeding and identifying illnesses in preterm babies are adopted.
She pointed out that “survival depends on where you are born and not skills and technology. Immediate post-natal care, hygiene and on-going care are critical to preterm and low weight survival.”
Victor Ngolongah, chief health and nutrition officer at UNICEF, called for the scale-up of implementation of interventions to end the surge.
“We need to change the trend with commitment and action which require resources and dedication from all,” he said.
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