Master Joel Osei Nhyira Yeboah, a seven-year-old boy, who was born preterm, has encouraged parents of preterm babies not to give up on their babies but take good care of them to grow.
He said, “I was born preterm, but I am strong, healthy, and intelligent,” adding that once he survived as a preterm baby by the grace of God, mothers with preterm babies should not lose hope but have faith in God and He would see them through.
Master Yeboah, a pupil of Desert Pastures International School in Bolgatanga, gave the words of encouragement at the climax of the Prematurity Month Celebration organised by the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga.
This year’s prematurity month celebration was on the theme; “Zero separation, Act now! Keep parent and born too soon together.”
Madam Jemima Nyamekye Puni, the mother of the Seven-year-old, said, “I gave birth to him at 31 weeks, four days, when the NICU was newly opened.”
Recounting her experience as a mother of a preterm baby, Madam Puni said, “It was not easy at all, the hospital did not have oxygen at that time, the nurses were running 24hour shifts with doctors. Now, he is doing very well. We thank God, the nurses, and the doctors because they were so good to us.”
Dr Aiden Suntaa Saanwie, the Acting Medical Director of the Hospital in a speech delivered on his behalf, said prematurity was a major cause of morbidity and mortality of neonates and under five-year children worldwide including Ghana.
He said prematurity was one of the causes of admission at the NICU, and was also among the top ten causes of mortality in the hospital, adding that the World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Health had over the years implemented effective evidence based interventions to prevent and manage prematurity.
Dr Saanwie said among the interventions was a one-month celebration of prematurity, “that is, every November is set aside to create awareness among stakeholders about prematurity births for the prevention and appropriate management.”
He said the reason for this year’s theme was that hypothermia, which is low body temperature, was one of the complications in prematurity that led to the death of premature babies.
He said one of the effective evidence based interventions to prevent hypothermia in prematurity was to keep the bodies of the parents and babies together, to keep babies body temperature at normal range to aid their survival.
Madam Shiela Nigre, a Neonatal Nurse Specialist and Manager of the NICU, said even though the Unit had several challenges including the lack of adequate space, staff of the Unit had effectively managed preterm babies who had survived and were normal like other babies.
She used the occasion to appeal to stakeholders to support the Unit with incubators and cardiac monitors to enable them to function properly as a special Unit, and also commended UNICEF and other organizations and individuals for their support to the Unit over the years.