In Ghana, there have been 25 thousand eight hundred (25,800) stillbirths and neonatal deaths in the last three years.
Dr. Alexander Manu, Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana’s School of Public Health, revealed this during a presentation on “Assessment of Newborn Care in Ghana” at the 10th Annual Newborn Stakeholders’ Conference, which was held in Koforidua under the theme “Accelerating Newborn Survival and Wellbeing: Massive Scale-Up of Key Interventions for Impact.”
According to him, intrapartum-related causes (asphyxia), preterm birth, and infection account for 90 of every 100 recorded deaths.
Dr. Alexander Manu also attributed the country’s high stillbirth and neonatal mortality rates to institutional challenges such as the apparent shift in interest in newborn health demonstrated by the posture of managers at various levels, poor adherence to policies and protocols, early initiation of breastfeeding, aggressive marketing and promotion of breast milk substitute, inadequate infrastructure and equipment, frequent rotation of trained personnel, and many other and most irrational factors.
According to Dr. Manu, there is a shortage of neonatologists, as data collected from 143 of 261 districts shows that there was only one neonatologist from 2019 to 2021.
Dr. Patrick Kuma Aboagye, Director General of the Ghana Health Service, revealed that one of the major challenges contributing to neonatal death in Ghana is a lack of access to healthcare, particularly in rural areas.
Dr. Kuma Aboagye also stated that, while current records show that newborn deaths decreased from 43 per 1,000 births in 2017 to around 25 per 1,000 births in 2018, the Ghana Health Service has yet to conduct another survey, most likely next year, to assess the current situation.
He stated that the Ghana Health Service will soon launch an ICT-based client care program next year in order to reach pregnant women in rural areas who do not have access to health care services.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Regional Director of Health, Dr. Winfred Ofosu, expressed concern that the region currently lacks a neonatologist, making the situation even more difficult to manage given the region’s alarming neonatal mortality rate.