A health programme targeted at reducing death of newborn babies in the Ashanti region has achieved a significant reduction in neonatal mortality cases.

Through the successful implementation of the programme, authorities say deaths associated with newborns reduced from a record 70 deaths per 100 thousand live births in 2018 to 40 deaths in 2022.

Canadian High Commission, with the support of UNICEF and the Ghana Health Service, local collaborators are leading the charge as neonatal resuscitation services are offered in over 15 selected public health facilities.

Among equipment provided as part of the programme are 4 PCR machines used in diagnosing Covid-19, stationed at Mampong, Ejisu, Bekwai and Nkawie Government Hospitals.

Others are; equipment such as incubators, radiant warmers, phototherapy machines for neonatal resuscitation and to address high incidence of neonatal mortalities.

Water and sanitation facilities and other hygiene logistics are also provided as part of the programme.

Ashanti Regional Health Director, Dr. Emmanuel Kojo Tinkorang, says with the support of the Canadian government and partners, neonatal resuscitation services are being offered in some selected public health facilities.

“Four years ago, our neonatal mortality cases were very high. What we realized is that most of the cases cannot be managed at the peripheral level so referrals will have to go to Komfo Anokye.

So, we set up neonatal intensive care units in Suntreso Hospital, in Manhyia, in Ejisu and then in Nkawie and then Bekwai and then other hospitals.

So, most of the referrals that were previously going to Komfo Anokye were reduced and then we posted pediatricians from Komfo Anokye to these facilities. So instead of referring most of these neonatal cases to Komfo Anokye,” says Dr. Tinkorang.

Health authorities observed that high incidents of newborn deaths were detected four years ago as ill-equipped peripheral facilities referred neonatal emergencies to the only referral centre, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital for management.

KATH, overwhelmed by the numbers, could not offer the best of care to the babies, resulting in deaths.

As part of the programme dubbed “Saving the Lives of Children Project”, Neonatal intensive care units were set up at the Suntreso, Manhyia, Nkawie, Bekwai and Ejisu Government Hospitals to provide quality emergency care to release the burden on Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.

Regional Health Director, Dr. Emmanuel Kojo Tinkorang revealed, the Canadian government and partners like UNICEF, provided the facilities with the needed equipment to function effectively.

“As I said, the issue was [about] time because they were not given adequate care because the work overload is just too much.

And with that, we started seeing reduction in the mortalities. So initially, like 70  per 100,000 live births. Now we are working closely to about 40 per 100,000 live births which is quiet good.” Ashanti Regional Health Director, Dr. Emmanuel Kojo Tinkorang said.

UNICEF-Canadian Embassy www.myjoyonline.com
L-R(Anne-Claire Dufay, Kati Csaba, Dr. Emmanuel Tinkorang & Nathaniel Adams Jnr

Canada commits at least 50 million Canadian Dollars in bilateral support through its programmes in Ghana every year.

The country has over the years introduced and implemented women empowerment projects.

Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, Kati Csaba, who joined the Regional Director of Health on a tour of some health facilities in the region is excited about the gains made so far under the programme.

“The spread of Covid-19 burdened the health system of the country. The result was increasingly limited capacity to deliver the routine healthcare services provided by maternal newborn and child health clinics.

As we know, babies do not stop being born in a pandemic. The overstretched health system coupled with decreased visits to health clinics meant that mothers, babies and children did not have access to critical and timely care.

I’m pleased to confirm that a further 15 health facilities have been equipped with medical oxygen infrastructure and 150 health workers have been trained to administer oxygen to patients in critical care.”

Country Representative of UNICEF, Anne-Claire Dufay is overwhelmed by the  positive impact of the project.

“Within one year of our joint project with Canada, which is supporting the government of Ghana’s efforts, we have seen significant results. To date; 900 community health nurses, 800 midwives, 100 environmental officers and 700 community health committee members have been trained to deliver quality services in the field of reproductive, maternal and child health, nutrition, WASH and Covid-19 response.”

“Approximately 980,000 children from birth to five years, and about 250,000 pregnant and nursing women were reached with health and nutrition services,” she added.

Several health facilities are currently benefiting from a US$8 million funding support for lifesaving health, nutrition and sanitation services for children and women in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ejisu Government Hospital is one of the beneficiaries. It is benefitting from a mechanized borehole to solve the facility’s water challenges as well as provision of modern sanitation facilities such as toilet, hand wash bay, among others.

Chief Executive Officer of Rural Water and Development Programme Ghana, implementing partners of UNICEF, Nathaniel Adams Jnr told visiting Canadian High Commissioner, UNICEF and Ghana Health Service officials the project is addressing challenges identified at the beneficiary facilities.

“This project is adding 120,000 liter-storage, 110 liters per minute water supply; replacing Veronica buckets with sinks to aid hand washing, provision of water closet toilet facilities.

This is what is being replicated in the 16 additional hospitals and the 22 CHPS compound.”