Principal Nursing Officer Regina Obeng is the recipient of the first ever International Neonatal Nursing Excellence Award. She has provided care to newborns for more than 20 years at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana.
HNN interviewed Nurse Regina Obeng about nursing, newborn health in Ghana, and what keeps her committed to newborns.
What challenges do you see for mothers and newborns in Ghana?
Mothers are not given enough information about the neonates. Mothers are also not to mourn when a neonate dies as culture demands. Babies are recognized six weeks after birth. Most neonates after death are not given befitting burial.
Why are neonatal nurses so important in Ghana?
Ghana’s neonatal mortality is high (30 deaths per 1000 live births), and we need committed nurses with knowledge to help reduce it.
What challenges do you have as a neonatal nurse in Ghana? How do you overcome them?
There is no specific training for interested nurses. Most nurses shy away from the care of the neonates. To them it is too tedious. In planning for health care most often the neonates are left out.
There is a lack of recognition for nurses working in the neonates…few and poor functioning machines, like incubators, radiant heater or warmer for unstable babies. There is congestion in the unit in my hospital and inadequate supply of materials, like infusion giving set with pipette, infusion set with burette.
We try our best with the limited resources we have to make our voice heard on the needs of the neonates.
What advice would you give to others who are interested in becoming neonatal nurses?
Caring for the neonates needs devotion, determination, understanding and making oneself approachable to mothers, communicating well with other health workers and perseverance to achieve the best for neonates.
What is your inspiration?
I once came out of a shop in town to meet a woman with a lovely girl with all smiles. The woman said, “Madam nurse, I saw you entering the shop and decided to wait for you.” She held the hand of the lovely girl and said, “this is the 1.2kg baby you helped and gave me confidence to care for. God bless you. You are always in my prayers.” I embraced the lovely girl and I could not control myself. Tears of joy.