Article published in Ghana's The Mail
Ghana’s First Lady, Mrs. Ernestina Naadu-Mills has urged midwives, community health nurses and other health professionals to educate pregnant and nursing mothers on the provisions of quality newborn healthcare for their babies.
This, she said, would help detect early any disease infections against newborns and seek the appropriate medical attention for them.
Addressing a closing session of trainers of trainees workshop for health professionals in Accra, Mrs. Naadu-Mills said midwives and community health nurses were expected to educate more than 200 nursing mothers on newborn healthcare in the communities they operate in.
This includes providing information on breastfeeding, kangaroo mother care, infection prevention and symptoms of uncommon newborn illness and when to seek medical attention for newborns.
About 120 Midwives, Community Health Nurses and other health professionals were trained under the Neonatal Survival Pilot Project Programme.
The programme was to recognize danger signs related to pregnancy and child birth as well as the newborns.
It was designed by the American Academy of Paediatrics and it was dubbed, “Helping Babies Breath” to ensure safe delivery and survival of the newborns called “Golden Minute”.
Mrs. Naadu-Mills said the project was a close collaboration with the Accra and Kumasi Metropolitan Assemblies to reduce neonatal
mortality and it would save and improve the lives and health of women, neonates and infants.
She said the initiative on the project had reinforced commitment on the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to accomplish the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Four and Five.
The First Lady noted that national statistics showed that one-in-nine babies die before reaching the age of five and nearly three in five of these deaths occur during the first year of life.
“…and deaths of babies less than a month contributed to about two thirds of all infants deaths in the country and account for 40 per cent of death in infants under the age of five,” she said.
However, it has been determined that most of these neonatal deaths occur within 48 hours of birth and the GHS and Ministry of Health in collaboration with development partners have developed a road map for accelerating reduction of maternal and newborn mortality.
Mrs. Naadu-Mills commended the Millennium City Initiative (MCI) by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) for the support of the critical needed maternal and neonatal health research programme.
Mr. Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) Chief Executive said his outfit had worked with the American Academy of Paediatrics with sponsorship from Johnson and Johnson on the neonatal survival project.
“New born babies must be given a chance of life right at birth,” he noted and stressed the Mills administration’s commitment to ensure that Ghanaians were healthy to benefit from national development from birth, during youthful days and adulthood.
Nana Abena Akuamoa-Boateng, Regional Millennium City Initiative (MCI) Coordinator for West and Central Africa said the programme had improved skills, knowledge and confidence of midwives and improved client confidence and open communication between client and service.
She said it had also influenced service staff in maternal behaviour especially reporting to labour ward in fist stage.
Nana Akuamoa-Boateng explained that the objective of the intervention was to create a successful, scalable model for simplified health care training that could be undertaken in underserved urban and rural setting, thereby contributing to reduce child and maternal mortality.