The MamaYe Campaign and the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR) have called on the Ministries of Power and Health to collaborate and find solutions to the reported cases of newborn deaths at the Nsawam Government Hospital as a result of unending fitful power supply.
A report by Beatrice Adu of Joy 99.7 FM, which aired on Tuesday, January 28, 2015 revealed a deplorable state of maternal and newborn health at the Nsawam Government Hospital caused by the power crisis.
Beatrice Adu in her report said “at least, three babies have reportedly died this month at the Nsawam Government Hospital in the Eastern region due to the frequency of the country's worsening power crisis. The three were among twenty babies who were being rushed to the Intensive Care Unit for care after lights out there.”
The reporter further noted that: “It was excruciating for these mothers who delivered after a nine-month pregnancy only for their babies to die before their eyes because there was no electricity to power the ventilator needed to keep their babies alive.”
A statement signed by the Executive Director of the ARHR, Vicky T. Okine, expressed disappointment at the lack of efficient backup power supply, which has put the lives of pregnant women at risk and caused newborn deaths at the facility.
She said “a critical part of maternal and newborn survival is the availability and use of essential equipment, which are mostly powered by electricity. A second in the life of a pregnant woman or newborn can be fatal, especially during delivery. Uninterrupted power supply cannot be overemphasized at this stage.
“It is obvious that many other health facilities are facing similar life-threatening situations as a result of what has become known as ‘dumsor’. It is inhumane for pregnant women to carry babies in their wombs for nine months after all the stress only to lose them due to unstable power supply.”
Ms Okine stated that in order to address the issues created by the frequent power outages, the hospital authority must look internally for solutions, especially because “the ECG has failed to implement its decision to provide reprieve for ‘special installations’ across the country.”
“Firstly, health facility managers must purchase and install an Automatic Transfer Switch, which will bring the generator on stream almost immediately if the main utility goes off. There is a need to make a flywheel backup, also known as UPS, available to provide uninterruptible power supply for the essential life-saving equipment such as the ventilator and the autoclave, she added.”
She advised the leadership of the ministries of Health and Power to ensure that facilities that handle emergency obstetric and newborn cases are provided with alternative and reliable power supply in order to save lives. Ms Okine further admonished the Electricity Company of Ghana to be sensitive to health facilities when planning the load-shedding schedule to reduce preventable deaths.