Accra, July 31, GNA – The Ghana National Newborn Health Strategy and Action Plan, developed to decrease neonatal mortality by ensuring that national efforts place adequate focus on protecting the health of newborns has been launched in Accra.
In Ghana, one new born child dies every 15 minutes while 30,000 new born deaths are recorded every year.
These deaths make up 40 per cent of the under-five mortality, which are all the results of complications from preterm birth, during birth, infections, and low birth weight, including birth asphyxia (breathing difficulty just after delivery).
The strategy was, consequently, launched during an executive national forum on the theme: ‘Unite to Save Newborns: A promise Renewed’.
It seeks to dramatically reduce the number of babies who die in the neonatal period from 32 per 1,000 live births in 2011 to 21 per live births by 2018.
The strategy, which ends in 2018, is to guide leaders and stakeholders to develop and implement activities within the existing Ghana Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Acceleration Framework Action Plan and Ghana National Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health framework.
The plan is an integrated, comprehensive, and data-driven road map to measurably improve services and care for newborns by 2018. It translates urgent need into lifesaving action by galvanizing stakeholders and resources to protect Ghana’s littlest and most vulnerable citizens.
Proven low-cost interventions such as keeping the baby warm, early initiation of breastfeeding at birth, exclusive breast feeding, timely management of infections and hygienic umbilical cord care are simple ways that could save the lives of the new born would be promoted.
Additionally, policies that support care, to building the capacity of health workers and facilities and strengthening monitoring and evaluation are some of the tenets of the Strategy.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) pocket book, “Blue Book” was also launched at the forum to serve as a reference and a guide in the treatment of children.
Dr Kwaku Agyeman Mensah, Minister of Health (MOH), who launched the Strategy, developed by the Ministry and the Ghana Health Service (GHS), said it was ethically and morally right to save the life of every newborn by investing in the lives of all newborns.
‘Every newborn, every child, and every pregnant woman has the right to live,’ he stressed.
The Health Minister said investing in newborns meant investing in the foundation of generations, of entrepreneurs and of skilled personnel who would all work to build the country.
He said improved child health has been a priority for government; that was why the national strategy was developed and called on all stakeholders to get on board the crusade for the safety of newborns.
Dr Isabella Sagoe-Moses, National Child Health Coordinator, and a member of National Working Group of the Strategy, said although Ghana had reduced the national overall under-five mortality rate in the last decades, that change largely reflects improvement in the health of infants and older children.
She explained further that the decrease in neonatal death has, however, not kept pace because newborns have accounted for a disproportionate number of total under-five deaths, and the burden grown in the past five years.
She said the plan of the Strategy takes an integrated approach to saving lives and improving health for Ghana’s newborns and their mothers.
Dr Sagoe-Moses said within the next two days, health workers and other stakeholders in health care sector from all the regions would be exposed to the strategy and map up ways of implementing the plan of actions.
Ms Susan Ngongo, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative, who are partners of the Strategy, called for consolidated efforts of political, traditional and civil society organizations to deal with unnecessary deaths of newborns.
Mr Andrew Karas, Deputy Mission Director, USAID, emphasized the need to identify gaps, build health systems for long-term access to health and to ensure making improvements that would help save newborn lives.
He said mothers are significant pivots in saving the lives of newborns and so they should be factored in the implementation of the national strategy.
The National Chief Imam, Sheikh Nuhu Sharabutu, some members of Parliament, Hip-life musician Sarkodie, among other dignitaries, pledged their support for the strategy to prevent newborn deaths at the ceremony.
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