By Nicholas Osei-Wusu
Forty-eight percent of the more than 1,000 babies delivered at the Bekwai Municipal Hospital in Ashanti since June 2021 were pre-mature, with some of them delivered at six months, including one who weighed zero point-nine kilograms at birth.
However, statistics at the Hospital show a very high rate of survival of four out of every five pre-mature babies delivered at the Hospital.
The Head of the Pediatric Unit at the Hospital, Dr. Anna Amankwaah, disclosed this during this year’s commemoration of World Pre-Mature Day at Bekwai.
The natural gestation period for babies is 36 weeks, or nine months.
However, some of them are delivered before their expected time due to some risk factors and the problems associated with pregnancy.
The World Prematurity Day, which was initiated by the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants in 2008 to create awareness about the risks and challenges of babies delivered before the appointed date, has since 2011 become a world event on November 17 every year due to its global prevalence.
As part of the celebration, staff of the Bekwai Municipal Hospital went on a street procession from the hospital’s premises through key streets of the Asante Bekwai township amidst fun fare to create greater public awareness about the risk factors and challenges of the condition.
This was followed by a durbar of staff of the hospital, mothers, and their surviving premature babies, characterised by role play about prematurity newborns.
Some of the mothers, sharing their unique stories with the media, attributed the survival of their preterm babies partly to the professionalism and care provided by staff at the Hospital.
“I gave birth at 6 months. When I saw my baby, I lost any hope of her survival. It took only the caregivers to assuage my fears. During the 1 and a half months we spent here at the hospital, I was sad, even when we were discharged, and my parents also gave me hope,” Patience Asare, one of them, told the media.
The Head of the Pediatric Unit at the Hospital, Dr. Mrs. Anna Amankwaah, disclosed that, since June 2021, the Bekwai Hospital has delivered one thousand and four newborns, of which 48 percent were delivered before their due date.
She said, however, that, despite the high survival rate among such babies, expectant mothers need to take Antenatal clinic seriously to reduce the risk factors.
“The mothers should be compliant with their hospital visits and not skip Antenatal visits. They should not do their own home remedies, inducing, and all of that. And then to report as and when they feel any change or see complications arising.They should help comply and work hand in hand with health workers to help us give out the best for the babies to survive,” she advised.
The Medical Superintendent of the Hospital, Dr. Frank Serebuor, who is also the President of the Ghana Medical Association, appealed for more incubators and Baby Cots to adequately cater for newborns with unfavourable health conditions.
According to Dr. Serebuor, who is himself a Pediatrician Specialist, said pre-term babies have most of their vital organs, such as lungs, not fully developed and are also unable to regulate their body temperature, hence the need for them to be provided with Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), for the mother to keep them warm at all times.
The Hospital presented gifts to some mothers of surviving premature babies for complying with the guidance of health professionals before and after their birth.
This year’s celebration is themed: “Small Action, Big Impact.”