The Eastern Regional Hospital in Koforidua is intensifying efforts to combat preterm mortality.

The hospital has recorded a total of three hundred and sixty- five (365) preterm mortalities from 2020 to 2022.

Dr. Francis Mensah Akwetey, a Paediatrician at the Eastern Regional Hospital, highlighted the hospital’s endeavors to tackle preterm mortality and the promising results achieved so far.

“For the preterm mortality rate in 2020 ,we had a mortality rate of 14.2%.That is ,out of 971 that were delivered 138 unfortunately died.In 2021 we had 978 admissions being preterms and unfortunately 109 passed  that is about 11.1%.”

He added “last year 2022, the total admission to our neonatal intensive care unit was 2167 out of which 1008 were preterm. Out of the number of preterm, 118 died, about representing11.8%.So there is slight increase but compared to 2020 there is an improvement. Most of those who died are the once referred to us. The time they referred them to us they were not in good State” Dr. Akwetey explained.

Dr. Akwetey explained that challenges such as poor road networks and inadequate ambulances contribute to families transporting preterm babies in taxis, endangering the infants’ conditions.

Dr. Akwetey therefore emphasized the need for improved transport systems, especially ambulances, to ensure the safe transfer of preterm babies to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

He said the hospital’s focus on technology and optimal care aligns with the “Making Every Baby Count Initiative” (MECI II) project.

“We have a project call MECI II which making everybaby count initiative.So in 2020 the death rate was higher about 13% for the preterms but now it is 11.8% which means something good is happening. With the help of the funders we have been able to achieve this we aimed that nobody should dies”.

He added “When the babies are delivered how they are brought to the NICU. The transport system we need a lot. The Ambulance issue .Most areas don’t have ambulances so they have to be in taxis coming in so that actually contributes a lot “.

Preterm birth is defined as babies born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed, with sub-categories based on gestational age.

The hospital’s focus on reducing preterm mortality aligns with broader efforts to improve neonatal care and promote healthy outcomes for infants.

Globally, prematurity is the primary cause of death in children under 5 years old particularly in low income and developing countries underscoring the need for accessible and cost-effective care.

As Ghana observes World Prematurity Awareness Month in November, the global theme, “Small actions BIG IMPACT: immediate skin-to-skin care for every baby everywhere,” takes center stage.

The Eastern Regional Hospital is hosting the national launch of the awareness month.

Dr. Augusta Kutor, a Paediatrician at the Hospital highlighted the game-changing impact of Skin-to-Skin care for preterm babies alongside other interventions in saving lives.

Dr. Winfred Ofosu, Eastern Regional Health Director, emphasized the importance of raising awareness about preterm babies to dispel misconceptions that label such infants as witches, fostering a belief that they should not live.

He expressed gratitude for the intervention of the Kabaka Foundation, providing the hospital with an Ultra-Modern Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, enhancing the capacity to save more lives of preterm babies.

Source: Ghana/ Ansah