A pediatrician at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Nyaho Medical Centre, Dr. Rachel Teye, is urging the government to resource public hospitals with enough incubators.
She explains there are not enough incubators to accommodate babies born prematurely in the country, leading to their deaths.
Having a child born prematurely can be very scary, but the scariest is when facilities are not in place to accommodate such crucial situations.
Over the years, some public hospitals such as the Ejura and Nsawam Hospitals have been in the news for their inability to accommodate preterm babies.
A baby is premature if he/she is born before 37 weeks.
As the world commemorates Prematurity Day, awareness is being created to have hospitals well-resourced with incubators to help address the situation.
World Prematurity Day is observed on the 17th of November each year to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of their families worldwide.
To mark the day, the Neonatal Unit of the Nyaho Medical Centre invited some mothers to share their stories.
It is a dream of every mother to carry their unborn babies for nine months before child birth.
Usually with the hope to bond with them immediately through breastfeeding and other activities such as photo taking. Madam Esther Serwaa Akah- Tweneboa is a first time preterm mother and a sickle cell carrier.
Due to her condition, she was advised to give birth when her unborn baby was 32 weeks, just like most of them.
She explained how she felt when she was taken to her preterm daughter 24 hours after she had given birth.
“I saw her briefly. Because she was premature, they had to make sure she was breathing. When they brought her out, they just showed her to me and then rushed her out. I was very anxious as well because I was wondering if she was going to make it. The first time I saw her in the incubator, she was so tiny with a big diaper. But finally, when she was handed to me, I was excited and scared, coupled with the fact that she looked very different from the normal.”
Madam Serwaa, one would say, was fortunate to have an incubator on standby to accommodate her preterm baby. But in some public hospitals across the country, the situation is different.
A Paediatrician at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Nyaho Medical Centre, Dr Rachel Teye, explained that preterm babies faced higher risks of death or head to toe complications due to the underdevelopment of their body organs, such as the brain, eye, ears, mouth, chest, etc. therefore the need for government to make available more incubators in all public hospital across the country.
“Health in Ghana is growing, but unfortunately we do not have enough incubators in the country. We do not have enough places for specialized care. So Nyaho Medical Centre happens to be one of the few places that have enough incubators because we accessed the situation and realized we need to help preterm babies. Most of the times our referral centres are full; that is the truth of the matter. But these babies need help. It would help if there were more incubators in our hospitals.”
Dr Rachel Teye, also called on family members, especially fathers, to support mothers with preterm babies to help reduce the psychological implications it presents.
“It’s a general misconception that when you have a preterm, it’s not just the mothers that have some emotional distress, but fathers are also affected. Fathers are also expected to take their babies home. Fathers are also included in the Management of these babies because it takes a lot of help. It takes the whole family to take care of preterm and their health”