TAMALE, Ghana, 28 August 2013 - Newborn intensive care units in six hospitals will help reduce the high number of babies who die before reaching 30 days of life in the Northern and Upper East Regions of Ghana, said His Excellency the Ambassador of Japan Naoto Nikai today.

The Ambassador today launched the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Savelugu-Nanton Municipal Hospital, one of six donated by the Government of Japan in partnership with UNICEF and Ghana Health Services. The units are a central pillar of a $2 million partnership to reduce newborn deaths in the Northern and Upper East Regions.

In Ghana, about one million babies are born every year out of which around 30,000 die before reaching 30 days of life. Newborn deaths account for nearly 40% of under-five mortality in the country. Reducing newborn deaths is essential if Ghana is going to achieve its Millennium Development Goal to reduce child mortality. 

“These newborn intensive care units will bring specialist treatment closer to very sick babies and their families in Northern Ghana,” His Excellency Naoto Nikai said.

Before the six new units were set up last week, there was only one newborn intensive care unit in the whole of Northern Ghana – at Tamale Teaching Hospital.

“This high-level equipment will support improvements to the quality of newborn care at community level. Last year, the Government of Japan, UNICEF and Ghana Health Services trained more than 2,500 health workers and health volunteers to improve newborn care, as well as distributing 600 basic newborn care kits to be used in communities,” His Excellency Nikai said.

UNICEF Representative Susan Namondo Ngongi said that the new equipment as well as better training of staff and volunteers would  accelerate the reduction of newborn deaths.

“Too many babies in Ghana are dying in their first month of life. The most common causes of deaths are prematurity, infections and birth asphyxia. These deaths can be prevented with the right equipment and the right training,” UNICEF Representative Susan Namondo Ngongi said. 

Ghana Health Services Regional Director Dr. Akwasi Twumasi said that five other newborn intensive care units started operation this week at Yendi Municipal Hospital, Bole District Hospital, Bolgatanga Regional Hospital, Navrongo War Memorial Hospital, and Tamale Central Hospital.

“These intensive care units will help save lives. Babies will not die because there is insufficient equipment to properly treat them.” 



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Newborn Intensive Care Units launched in Northern Ghana

© © UNICEFGhana/2013/Logan
Baby Suale was one of the first newborns to benefit from the newborn intensive care unit at Savelugu-Nanton Municipal Hospital.

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