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Prematurity kills More than 8000 babies in Ghana annually – UNICEF

 ACCRA, 16 November 2016 – Prematurity and associated complications account for about a third of all newborn deaths in Ghana. UNICEF data estimates show that about 128,000 babies were born prematurely in Ghana and an estimated 8,300 under 5 deaths in 2015 were associated to prematurity.

Preterm babies are highly susceptible to difficulty in breathing and infections which are significant threats to their lives. Moreover, preterm infants who survive often have significant health problems such as poor growth, disorders of cognitive development and other long-term health and developmental challenges amongst others.

Mothers and caregivers of preterm babies are also psychologically affected from the pain, stigma and stress that bearing a preterm presents.

World Prematurity Day is therefore commemorated annually to raise awareness of the heavy burden of death and disability, the psychological stress, and the pain and suffering that preterm birth causes to parents, families, communities and nations at large.

“Many of these deaths could be avoided by simple practices such as handwashing with soap and water, exclusive breastfeeding and keeping the newborn warm” said Susan N. Ngongi, UNICEF Representative in Ghana.”

Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), a simple but proven method that saves preterm babies has come to be the standard care for preterm newborns. KMC significantly reduces complications due to prematurity such as hypothermia (low body temperature) and reduces the risk of death by 50%.

According to Dr Isabella Sagoe-Moses, Deputy Director of Reproductive and Child Health at the Ghana Health Service, “KMC is a cost-effective intervention that supports preterm babies to survive, but the emotional support that caregivers require from health workers and family members contributes to make a difference.” 

UNICEF is working with the Ghana Health service and the Paediatric Society of Ghana to harness multi-stakeholder support towards accelerating the achievement of the global goal to end preventable newborn and child deaths by 2030.


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UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

For more information, or for interviews, please contact: 

Dr. Isabella Sagoe-Moses, Ghana Health Service, 00 233 244 646 065,

Offeibea Baddoo, UNICEF Ghana, 00 233 244 663 643,



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