The Upper East Region on Friday marked the World Prematurity day at the Tanga-Poore Community in the Bongo District with a call on stakeholders, particularly traditional rulers and community members to ensure that women go for antenatal and postnatal services during pregnancies and after delivery.
The day is set aside every year on November 17 by the global community to observe the World Prematurity day.
A premature baby is a baby born earlier or before the expectant 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature babies may need to stay in a Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) and may have long-term health problems.
The event which was celebrated as a community durbar by the Integrated Youth Needs and Welfare (INTYON), an NGO in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) with support from UNICEF-Ghana, brought together traditional rulers, opinion leaders, officials from the Department of Social and Community Development, women groups, the media among others.
The Executive Director of INTYON, Chief Issah Ibrahim, who made the call, stressed that the issue of giving birth to preterm babies could be avoided if pregnant women were encouraged to patronize health facilities regularly to access antenatal care.
He stated that traditional rulers were the custodians of the people and therefore urged them to ensure that pregnant women accessed antenatal and postnatal care during pregnancies and after delivery.
Whilst calling on husbands to ensure that their pregnant wives go for antenatal services, he stressed the need for them to accompany their wives to health facilities particularly during delivering periods.
He appealed to the stakeholders, especially parents not to do away with preterm babies, and said they should give equal attention to them like the normal babies by ensuring that they were sent regularly to health facilities to access health services.
Chief Ibrahim indicated that currently his outfit and other NGOs together with the Ghana Health Service are implementing a project dubbed “Mother-Baby Friendly Health Facility Initiatives (MBFHI)”, in 42 communities in the District, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The project is targeting health workers, women, traditional and religious leaders and geared towards encouraging more women to regularly visit and deliver at health centres as well as ensuring early initiation to breast feeding within 30 minutes after birth, exclusive breastfeeding and promoting basic new-born care.
Mr John Azam, the Director of Social Welfare and Community Development in charge of the Bongo District, who represented the District Chief Executive, Mr Peter Ayimbisa Ayamga, at the function, commended the organizers and the sponsors of the programme and appealed to the communities to take advantage of the information and education to help improve upon their lives.
“Development is not only about physical infrastructure like schools and hospitals, Information and education is also very critical for development, and you must count yourselves lucky for this programme and make amends,” he stressed.
He stated that Government through the Livelihood Empowerment Programme was providing support to pregnant women in some selected households in the communities to help improve upon their nutritional status.
The Chief of the area, Naba Abugbire Tampoore, pledged to institute measures in the community to ensure that pregnant women attended health facilities regularly to access antenatal and postnatal care as well as deliver at the facility and exclusively feed their babies.
The occasion was used to put up drama performances on inimical cultural practices that inhabit maternal and infant health and other health related issues including open defecation.