March 4, 2024

The programme manager for newborn and child health of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Edward Antwi, has revealed that, about 50,000 babies die from birth asphyxia in Ghana every year.

Dr Edward Antwi, who disclosed this, said the figure could be more, given that some of the cases that occurred in home deliveries and outside recognised health facilities might not have been captured in the data.

Birth asphyxia could happen before birth in the womb and result in stillbirths or during prolonged labour.

“In Ghana, on the average, one million babies are born  every year, and with the current neonatal mortality rate of 17 per 1,000 live births, it means for every one million births, about 170,000 are dying, and out of this, 30 per cent are dying from birth asphyxia,” Dr Antwi said.

About 100 participants in the 11th annual national newborns conference, which opened in Cape Coast last Tuesday, deliberated on reducing the incidence of asphyxia, strengthening sick newborn care at referral district hospitals and supporting new asphyxiated babies to survive, among others.

Birth asphyxia happens when a baby’s brain and other organs do not get enough oxygen and nutrients before, during or right after birth.

In the considered opinion of this newspaper, the time has come for the country to take bold and decisive actions to contain this sickness once and for all

One of the challenges, as mentioned by Dr Antwi, is the lack of awareness about the diseased.

Many people in Ghana, especially in rural areas, are not aware of the symptoms or how the disease is spread. This lack of knowledge can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment, which can be fatal.

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It is essential that the relevant authourities, such as the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service, invest in public awareness campaigns that educate people about Birth Asphyxia

Another major challenge according to Dr Antwi, is the level of commitment of health workers, and therefore advised health workers to be more committed to providing efficient and prompt health services.

Birth asphyxia is a serious public health threat that demands immediate and sustained action from the government, healthcare workers, and the general public.

In our view, by increasing awareness and education, improving healthcare facilities and resources, and coordinating efforts across government and other stakeholders, Ghana can make significant progress towards reducing    the incidence of Birth asphyxia


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