Many health facilities across the country do not have specialised equipment and supplies designed to take care of babies who are less than one month old.
As a result, in some instances, the health staff have been compelled to improvise with equipment, meant for adults or older children under five years to serve the health needs of the newborns.
The Deputy Director responsible for Reproductive and Child Health at the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Isabella Sagoe-Moses, who disclosed this in an interview mentioned some of these newborn equipment and supplies as cots, intra-venous fluids (drips), incubators as well as self-inflating bags and masks which are used for the resuscitation of newborns.
“In many health facilities, the masks that are available are those for older children. The newborns are small and many of the hospitals don’t have the appropriate sizes for them”.
Dr Sagoe-Moses, pointed out that the lack of these specialised equipment at health facilities contributes to the high death rate among newborns.
“Every year, about 30,000 newborns all over the country die before they attain one month in age. The death of such a huge number of children means our future as a country is compromised because nobody knows the potentials of these newborns and what they could contribute to national development,” she stressed.
She said although the needed equipment for babies who are below one month were available and can be imported from abroad, the money to purchase them was the problem since the health sector did not have enough money to do so.
Dr Sagoe-Moses explained that it was for that reason that during their training programmes and interactions with health managers, they encouraged each health facility to purchase the equipment from internally generated funds.
“Following the sensitisation, some health facilities have been able to make their own purchases. Additionally, with support from some of our partners such as PATH, UNICEF, USAID, Jhpiego and other non-governmental organisations some facilities have been equipped to some extent. We appeal to corporate agencies to support health facilities by purchasing some of these specialised equipment needed for the survival of newborns,” she said.
Newborn death, according to Dr Sagoe-Moses, has not seen significant reduction since 1989 and attributed the three main causes of newborn deaths to be prematurity, infections and birth asphyxia, which is difficulty in breathing by a newly delivered baby.
The Deputy Director for Reproductive and Child Health mentioned some of the strategies the GHS is implementing to reduce newborn deaths to include the equitable distribution and maintenance of quality essential medicines, ensuring the procurement of medical devices and commodities for newborn care; building the capacity of community health workers to newborn health and developing or updating necessary policies, standards and coordinating mechanisms to support newborn care.