GHS Holds Meeting On Newborn Care

Dr Erasmus Agongo, Director of Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Ministry of Health, on Thursday called for stronger linkage between hospitals and community health improvement centers. He said this would enable the two partners to continuously support and care for newborn and clients discharged from health facilities. He said maintenance of close contact with clients and the provision of follow-up homecare support for newborn was an integrated approach to help reduce further complications in children and babies discharged from hospitals. Dr Agongo made the call at a joint Northern Sector Newborn Care meeting in Bolgatanga where partners and the Ghana Health Service deliberated on ways to improve and reduce under-five mortality. He said focusing on newborn care should be linked to the community level to enable health professionals to provide support for the babies. “We can have a first class hospital care for premature but that child must be discharged and when the child goes to the community and that link is not effective for the community to provide supportive care, all the efforts made would come to naught,” he stressed. Dr Agongo said the health sector must tackle problems of newborn through integrated vertical and horizontal approaches to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. He said strategies and good systems were in place with proven interventions and that there was urgent need to package those strategies to tackle new born care cases as many deaths occurred in this category. Dr Agongo said the healthcare delivery system must identify the needs of patients especially new born, pregnant women, infants, adults, and the aged and model interventions to address each problem. Dr Koku Awoonor-Williams, Upper East Regional Director of Health Services, conceded that efforts to reduce newborn deaths were slow and said Ghana was re-prioritizing health needs in that direction from 2014-2018 to reduce new born mortality by five per cent each year and neo natal mortality at 21/1000 live births. He said 30 per cent of neonatal deaths had been attributed to infections, 27 per cent caused by asphyxia and 30 per cent through pre term pregnancies and added that 40 per cent of under-five mortality and 60 per cent infant mortality occurred during 30 days of life. He said in spite of the alarming statistics, there were cost effective interventions, prevention and treatment of the causes of deaths mentioned earlier and, therefore, the periodic meetings by the three northern regions was to help share ideas, experiences, and challenges and consider best practices on new born care implementation. He outlined the objectives of the review meeting as assessing progress of implementation of new born care interventions in the Upper East and Northern regions, review targets set and look at the way forward in attaining these targets. It will also institute concrete plans for 2014 and 2015 and serve as a prelude to UNICEF’s mid-year new born care review.