Neonatal deaths (deaths that occur in infants during the first four weeks of life) have been shown to account for almost 50% of all deaths in children under five in Ghana. UNICEF therefore held a two-day meeting in conjunction with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to discuss methods of improving newborn healthcare and decreasing neonatal deaths in Ghana. By improving neonatal care, the country will also be working towards achieving Millenium Development Goal #4: reducing childhood mortality.
According to UNICEF and Dr. Isabella Sagoe-Moses, the National Child Health Coordinator with the GHS, 70-80% of neonatal deaths in Ghana could be prevented through known, effective, and relatively simple interventions. However, Dr. Sagoe-Moses also illustrated why these interventions, though simple, are difficult to carry out. Obstacles to providing better healthcare include “major bottle necks, such as persistent practices in harmful socio-cultural beliefs and practices, poor road networks, water and sanitation and other socio-economic factors.” She also cites a “lack of improvement in maternal health” as another complication to preventing neonatal deaths.
Addressing these obstacles calls for action on the part of major stakeholders in the health sector and changes beyond that of the family level. Among the proposed solutions were strengthening “national leadership and partnerships of key actors, as well as the implementation of a National Newborn Health Strategy and action plan.” Other solutions included empowering women to make reproductive health decisions and improving human resources, supplies, and the referral system. While Ghana has a long way to go to decrease child mortality by 2015, this meeting brought together key stakeholders and actors in the healthcare sector for a discussion on ways to achieve this goal.
Here is the link to the article if you want to read more: http://www.ghananewsagency.org/details/Health/UNICEF-holds-stakeholders-meeting-on-accelerating-newborn-health-care-in-Ghana/?ci=1&ai=46157#.UE1SXGidIlJ