Dr Gillian Bogee, Head of the Newborn Care Unit of the Upper East Regional hospital in Bolgatanga, says the Unit lost 25 low birth weight babies between January to October 2023.
She said out of 1152 preterm babies admitted at the Unit within the period, 530 were low birth weight babies.
“We lost 25 of these low-birth-weight babies out of the 530, and these 25 of the low-birth-weight babies that passed on were not actually on the Kangaroo Mother Care
“They were on the ward being managed for other serious medical conditions, and some were also referred from the neighbouring facilities into the Regional Hospital with serious medical conditions,” she explained.
Dr Bogee announced this in an interview with journalists at the launch of this year’s World Prematurity month celebration at the hospital.
The month of November is usually celebrated as prematurity month, and this year’s celebration was on the theme: “Small Actions, Big Impact: Immediate Skin-to-Skin for Every Baby Everywhere.”
She said the total number of newborn babies admitted annually at the Unit was between 1200 to 1500, and out of the number, the second leading cause of admission was premature babies.
“Almost half of the babies we received at the Newborn Care Unit were low birth weight babies,” she said.
Dr Bogee, who is a Paediatrician, emphasized the need for expectant mothers to take Ante-Natal Care (ANC) services seriously, saying “We know that it is during the ANC that all these complications are picked up.
“So, if expectant mothers do not attend the ANC, their Blood Pressures are not checked, urine proteins are not done, the mothers live unhealthy lifestyle, and that can even make the uterine environment very unfavourable for the baby,”
Dr Bogee said it could predispose expectant mothers to preterm delivery, and reiterated that “It is important that they must attend the ANC.
“Everything starts from the ANC. If they do not really start the ANC early, or they do not go for the ANC at all, that is when they have some of these complications,” the Newborn Care Unit Head said.
Dr Bogee expressed gratitude to staff of the Unit for their dedication to duty, the Regional Health Directorate, management of the hospital, UNICEF, KOICA, JICA, BONABOTO-UK, CRS, Fountain Gate Chapel, Action Chapel International, and all benevolent individuals and institutions who over the years supported the Unit.
Dr Aiden Suntaa Saanwie, the Medical Director of the Hospital, said despite the challenges of the Newborn Care Unit, it had achieved some successes since it was established in 2014.
“Key among them is the establishment of a KMC Unit. When we started, we had just three-bed capacity, now we have a 10-bed capacity Unit, which is an expansion. The KMC is an important cost-effective way of managing premature babies,” he said.
KMC is the act of putting a baby skin-to-skin on the mother in a kangaroo position.
Dr Saanwie said preterm babies were prone to various kinds of infections, and should be effectively managed, “So we as an institution have developed clear protocols which guides how we manage these cases.
“The most recent one was when we managed a baby that was delivered at 26weeks. That is the record in this hospital,” the Medical Director said, and further used the occasion to appeal for more baby incubators to augment the six functioning incubators in the Newborn Care Unit.