The Paediatric Society of Ghana (PSG) has encouraged pregnant women to patronise antenatal care services to ensure that babies with birth asphyxia are managed on time.
Dr Emmanuel Oppong, Paediatrician & Child Health Advocate, said this was crucial because birth asphyxia contributed to 34 per cent of neonatal deaths, making it the second leading cause of neonatal mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Birth asphyxia is the inability to initiate and sustain breathing at birth.
It is a potentially preventable cause of childhood morbidity and mortality.
Some risk factors of birth Asphyxia are poor or non-attendance of antenatal clinic, birth asphyxia history in previous delivery, young maternal age, low socioeconomic status, prolonged labour, prolonged rupture of the foetal sac before onset of labour and wrong presentation of the baby during labour.
Medical experts also say in some cases high blood pressure or high blood sugar level in pregnancy, multiple gestation and other chronic illness contribute to the menace.
Dr Oppong said survivors of birth asphyxia often faced long-term neurologic effects such as learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, seizures as well as visual and hearing defects.
The Paediatrician, also the Co-Chairperson of the PSG Committee for Birth Asphyxia, said this at a public engagement to create awareness among the public and improve knowledge among healthcare workers on perinatal asphyxia.
The Birth Asphyxia Awareness Month (BAAM!) held throughout the month of September is to give direction on how healthcare providers can take up their roles in the fight.
Dr Oppong emphasised that prevention, early detection, timely and appropriate management of the risk factors could significantly reduce the chances of delivering an asphyxiated baby and urged pregnant mothers to take antenatal seriously.
He hinted that the National Executive Council of the PSG, would soon roll out the Helping Babies Breath train, aimed at providing hands-on training for healthcare workers in all 16 regions.
“I hope that the BAAM activities, including the public forum would trigger a domino effect, which will culminate into overall reduction in morbidity and mortality of newborns and lead to practical support systems for children with such special needs as a result of birth asphyxia,” Dr Oppong stated.
Mr Hamza Adam, the Member of Parliament for Kumbungu, representing the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Gender and Children, commended the Paediatric Society of Ghana for the initiative, saying, it would contribute to concerted efforts at achieving Ghana’s targets for Sustainable Development Goal 3.
The month-long awareness campaign was characterised by activities such as stakeholders meeting, public forum, panel discussions, and training workshops.