Bolgatanga, Nov. 18, GNA -The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the Upper East Regional hospital in Bolgatanga has celebrated World Prematurity day with a call on health professionals to strengthen their healthcare systems to ensure survival of preterm babies.
This year’s World Prematurity Day which is celebrated annually on November 17, was on the theme; “Together for babies born too soon – caring for the future.”
Mr Francis Wuni, a Paediatric Nurse Specialist at the Regional hospital who made the call in an interview with the Ghana News Agency after he facilitated a day’s workshop to commemorate the day, said it was important to observe the day.
He explained that “Prematured babies are part of us. Annually we deliver about 15 percent babies worldwide. 60 percent of premature babies are found in Africa and South Asia. That means we have a higher risk of premature babies than any other place.”
He said maternal ages less than 20 years and greater than 40 years had high risk of preterm delivery, and said alcohol consumption, and diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, Sickle Cell Disease, malaria among others could lead to preterm deliveries.
“We need to celebrate this day to create awareness about some of these conditions because some of these conditions are not managed well during pregnancies.
“Prematurity is the leading cause of deaths under five years. It means to tackle under five deaths, we must be interested in preterm babies. We must strengthen our care and fight towards preterm care. In Ghana, statistics indicate that about 8,400, preterm babies die annually,” the Paediatric Nurse Specialist said.
Mr Wuni, who is also the NICU in charge, disclosed that the hospital recorded a total of 352 preterm babies in 2019 while out of the number, 86 were recorded in the first quarter, 85 in second quarter, 103 in third quarter and 78 in fourth.
Mr Zakariah Yakubu, the Head of Administration of the hospital said the facility had a well set up system to manage issues of preterm deliveries, and urged health professionals in the hospital to ensure that every preterm baby survived.
He thanked staff of the facility for their efforts over the years, and expressed gratitude to the Ghana Health Service, the Regional Health Directorate and their partners, including UNICEF, Ghana Red Cross Society among others for the support.
Mrs Jemima Nyamekye Puni, a victim of preterm delivery, appealed to management of the hospital to extend services of Clinical Psychologists to mothers of preterm babies.
“No matter the reassurances given by nurses and midwives at the NICU, I think a Clinical Psychologist should be involved in the care. If management engages their services, it will really help,” she said.