Inadequate incubators and other facilities, as well as late referrals, contribute to 50% of babies dying within 24 hours after their birth at the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital.
That’s not all. Eighty percent of them die within a week after birth. That’s the harrowing statistics of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital presented at the 2018 annual performance review of the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital.
The hospital serves as the referral centre for the Central Region and parts of the Ashanti and Western Regions.
“Sadly, it is not all the babies here that live to tell the stories they brought forthwith to the world. Some barely spend 24 hours in this world,” he reports.
Specialist Pediatrician at the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital, Dr. Yemah Mariama Bockarie explains, practically, the hospital has no neonatal Intensive care unit. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is virtually perching with another department in a make-shift arrangement.
As at the end of 2018, the unit that takes care of referral cases and other issues related to children had only one functional incubator. That’s not all, nurses and doctors go through hell to save the babies born at the hospital or referred to the unit because equipment and other supporting facilities are practically not there.
“The deaths have to do with referrals, equipment and infrastructure; it has to do with expertise because there are only three specialists in this big facility. People are referred to the facility and they come here with many complications because they delayed,” she explained.
Dr. Yemah Mariama Bockarie says the hospital needs incubators, oxygen machines, Phototherapy and other supporting systems to deal with the challenge and to help reverse the situation.
Acting CEO of the Cape Coast Teaching hospital, Dr. Eric Ngyedu says the hospital is soliciting support to deal with the challenge.
“As we indicated in the performance review, we lack adequate space to contain the neonates that are brought to the hospital. We have as a board and management of the hospital submitted proposals to benevolent organizations for the development of such structures.”
“And the Ministry is also aware and is making effort to look at how such an edifice could be erected,” he explained.
Pre-maturity was the leading cause of neonatal deaths in the hospital with a mortality ratio of 63/1000 live births in 2018, as against 59/1000 live birth in 2017. Infant mortality ratio was 69/1000 live births in 2018, as against 65/1000 live births in 2017. Similarly, underfive mortality ratio was 77/1000 live births in 2018 compared with 71/1000 live births in 2017.