Mr Steven E. Hendrix, the Mission Director of USAID, says for Ghana to be accorded the title “Gateway to Africa’, it needs to start with saving the lives of mothers and children in the country.
He said: “I really do think we have the best leaders in the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Ministries, Parliament, and Flagstaff House among others.
So I challenge all these leaders and health practitioners to have a sense of urgency in addressing neonatal issues in the country,” Mr Hendrix said at the opening of the 2017 National New-born Stakeholders Meeting on Tuesday in Accra.
Mr Hendrix tasked health practitioners to help the leadership of the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service (GHS) to identify the real issues of neonatal and find solutions to them.
“You know what is happening at your various health posts, work with the leaders and collectively, you can change the reality now,” he advised.
He urged the stakeholders to embrace the Sustainable Development Goals extensively in the country, and pledged donors’ continuous support towards the provision and promotion of quality neonatal care.
Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Director-General of the GHS, said the annual event which was born out of consent for the plight of new-borns was aimed at addressing the raising of awareness on the elements required for providing quality care for new-borns.
Dr Nsiah-Asare noted that in every 15 minutes, a new born baby dies in Ghana representing 90 deaths every day.
“While 21, 000 deaths are recorded annually as a result of premature births, complications, inadequate nutrition services in deprived areas, inadequate access to quality health care and sustainability issues of the NHIS,” he said.
Dr Nsiah-Asare also blamed most of the setbacks in the health sector to inadequate staff especially midwives, adding that, “In the next year budget, we are going to appeal to government to allocate money that will help employ staff to meet our indicators.”
Dr Rosaline Doe, the Reproductive and Child Health Officer of the World Health Organisation, said 45 per cent of all under five deaths occurred among new-borns with 75 per cent of infant mortality being contributed by neonatal.
“Whiles 80 per cent of neonatal mortality occurred as a result of infections, prematurity and low birth rate,” she said.
Dr Doe observed that 1, 910,000 lives could be saved if quality healthcare is ensured.
Mr Kingsley Aboagye Gyedu, the Deputy Minister of Health, said, between 2004-2008, neonatal mortality rates had not declined much in the country.
“When we invest in new-borns, we are investing in the foundation of Ghana, which is prosperity for Ghana and prosperity for all,” he said.
Mr Aboagye Gyedu called for improvement in quality health care among new-borns in the country.
Participants called for the employment of more health practitioners as well as leaders engagement with Human Resource persons on the rightful placement of midwives in the health sector.
The meeting, which is the sixth edition since its inception brought together health practitioners from the 10 regions to deliberate and find pragmatic ways of addressing neonatal issues in the country.