The Rural Initiative for Self-Empowerment-Ghana (RISE-Ghana), a non-government organisation (NGO) has called on the Ghana Health Service and other stakeholders to invest in the care of preterm babies, to ensure their survival.
Mr. Awal Ahmed Kariama, the Executive Director of the NGO, in a signed statement copied to the Ghana News Agency, said such investments would also ensure every preterm baby thrived and felt the therapeutic warmth of their parents through skin-to-skin contact.
The statement issued to mark the World Prematurity Day, celebrated annually in November, indicated that 15 million babies were born prematurely every year, world-wide.
This year’s celebration is on the theme: “A Parent’s Embrace: A Powerful Therapy. Enable Skin-to-Skin Contact from the Moment of Birth.”
Mr, Kariama in the statement said, “Investing in achieving the above theme was not only urgent, but necessary to ensure the achievement of the SDGs and the Universal Health Coverage, reducing the burden of disability and care on women and families.
“World Prematurity Day is a key moment to focus global attention on the leading cause of child deaths under age five and complications from preterm birth which account for nearly one million deaths each year (UNICEF).”
Mr. Kariama said “Without a major push to reduce these deaths, we will not reach the Global Goal, endorsed by 193 countries, to end all preventable new-born, and child deaths by 2030.”
He said Prematurity Day was important as it drew attention of members of the public and stakeholders to the heavy burden of death and disability, pain and suffering associated with premature births.
“At least 29 per cent of neonatal deaths in Ghana are caused by premature births. A preterm birth is defined as a baby born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy is completed. Prematurity is the single largest cause of all under-five deaths affecting families all around the world,” he said.
Mr. Kariama said the day supported the values and goals of every new-born action plan and Ghana’s new-born care action plan by mobilizing local, national and global multi-sectorial support to save lives and improve the wellbeing of mothers and their babies.
According to the Executive Director, Ghana’s National New-born Health Strategy and Action Plan 2019-2023 could not be achieved without paying attention to issues of preterm births.
To achieve the goals of the theme for 2022, Mr Kariama said it was critical to mobilize and activate positive communal values, invest in social and behaviour change, and both parental support to ensure early stimulation was achieved in line with Ghana’s Nurturing Care Framework and Global efforts.
He thanked UNICEF-Ghana, STAR-Ghana, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the Ghana Health Service and other partners for the great strides to ensure preterm babies thrived and survived.