Dr Osei Kuffuor Afreh, the Upper West Regional Director of Health Services, has expressed concern about the increasing rate of neonatal mortality in the region saying it needs urgent attention.
He said the region recorded 6.1 per 1000 live births in 2018, and this increased to 8.6 per 1000 live births in 2019 adding that the prevailing statistics could be attributed to the lack of a paediatrician in the region.
Dr Afreh said the main causes of deaths were birth asphyxia, prematurity and sepsis.
He said he had directed all facilities in the region to establish resuscitation centres at all maternity units to help address the menace.
Dr Afreh raised these concerns at the 2019 Annual Performance Review Conference of the Ghana Health Service held under the theme: “Improving maternal and new-born care through quality health care delivery”.
He said the region has partnered with UNICEF to among others build the capacity of doctors and midwives in Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) and Essential Care for Every Child.
On maternal mortality, Dr Afreh said the region, with support from partners, has reduced the ratio from 100.8 per 100,000 live births in 2018 to 74 per 100,000 live births in 2019 through capacity building for health staff and improvement in antenatal service delivery.
He said the region currently has 336 functional Community-based health Planning and Services (CHPS) compounds out of which only 39 per cent has basic equipment to deliver quality health care.
Dr Afreh said out of the 336 functional CHPS, 56 had no access to potable water and 26 lacked electricity while several of them had no toilet facilities for patients visiting those facilities, which was impeding quality healthcare service delivery.
He said the region was faced with the challenge of attracting and retaining critical medical personnel, especially Doctors and Specialists and said “only five out of the 17 medical officers posted to the region reported and assumed duty while six medical officers had also left to pursue further studies”.
Mr Amidu Chinnia, the Deputy Upper West Regional Minister, commended the health workers for their commitment to fighting the challenge of maternal and neonatal mortality in the region.
“I would like to extend greater gratitude to the Health Extension Officers and health personnel working in rural and deprived communities for their patience and dedication to the profession in spite of the challenges that they face in the delivery of their service”, he said.
Mr Chinnia said the delivery of the 11 ambulances to the region by the government was timely as it would help improve health service delivery to the people.
Stakeholders in the health sector including the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), UNICEF and the Ghana Ambulance Service among others took turns to speak at the conference.