The Paediatric Society of Ghana has set aside the month of May every year to create awareness of newborn jaundice and also advocate for the provision of phototherapy machines and other logistics needed for the effective treatment of these babies.
Infant or neonatal jaundice is a health condition where the baby’s skin and the white part of the eyes appear yellowish leading to gradual child mortality if not treated.
The disease is usually detected during the first week of a baby’s life. If left untreated, newborn jaundice can lead to brain damage.
The hospital has climaxed the week-long celebrations at an event in the Nandom Municipality of the Upper West region Friday, May 27, 2022.
The celebration was of the theme: ‘Survive and Thrive, Yellow to Hero’.’
In attendance were: the Municipal Director of Health Services (MDSH), immediate past MDHS, the Municipal Chief Executive for Nandom Municipal, chiefs and queen mothers, the Municipal Coordinating Director as well as other stakeholders in the health sector.
In his address, Dr. Sebastian Yidana, Medical Superintendant of the hospital, said the 218-bed facility does not only serve the people of Nandom Municipal but also serves as a referral point to other districts and even Burkinabes due to its geographical location of the facility.
He revealed that: “In the first quarter of 2022, the hospital received 88 paediatric (children) and 200 maternal referrals from various health facilities in our catchment area. We project to receive 500 paediatric and 1000 maternal patients by close of year. This presents a daunting task for staff of the hospital considering the limited resources at our disposal. We however have a very motivated and dedicated team of health workers willing and capable of carrying out this mandate with the support of our stakeholders.”
“Our children who are the focus of this program, are managed in a 42-bed capacity ward whilst our new born unit has a capacity of 17 (10 cots, 4 incubators, 3 radiant warmers). St. Theresa’s Hospital works with a mission ‘to provide high quality healthcare in the most effective, efficient and innovative manner, specific to the needs of the communities we serve and at all times acknowledging the dignity of the patient. It is in this light that we seek to highlight the needs of our newborns who unfortunately develop jaundice, noting that they can rise from being yellow to being heroes.”
He furthered that: “Since 2020, we have had 1,123 admissions into the newborns unit (17 capacity) with 244 of these babies having infant jaundice. On average, 40 babies are admitted into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) every month. In 2020, 60 babies have already been admitted with newborn jaundice even before the first half of the year. Most of these babies have been managed with phototherapy, with as many as six babies sharing one phototherapy machine at a time, taking turns to use one of only 2 available machines. This situation demands urgent attention since it is leading to a lot of preventable deaths and disability from jaundice.”
Dr. Sebastian expressed optimism that the promise by the Municipal Assembly to furnish the hospital with a new newborn unit would be fulfilled soon.
In a bid to avoid depriving children of quality healthcare due to their inability to pay for the services, the hospital also used the opportunity to launch the ‘Sick Children Foundation’ at the event with the theme: ‘Everyday is a Chance to Help Someone.’
He reiterated the vision of the outfit of “continuing in Christ’s healing ministry in providing healing to the greatest possible number of people in the provision of total quality patient care through professionals with good ethical and moral standards who are conscientious as well as professionally competent, motivated and united in their common respect for fundamental human rights” which means that sick children who would otherwise not being able to pay for their hospital bills are catered for to get the needed treatment.