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AmeriCares Co-Sponsors Infant Survival Program in Ghana

  • February 22, 2011

americares quoteWe have learned a lot and now, by the grace of God, we hope that our babies will breathe.”

—A newly-trained midwife
   in the Neonatal Survival Program

Half of all infant deaths in Ghana occur during delivery or within the first 24 hours after birth, often because the infant has trouble breathing. Newborn baby Saviour faced such a fate when she suddenly stopped breathing. Saviour needed immediate resuscitation, or she would die.

Thanks to the new Neonatal Survival Program sponsored by AmeriCares, Johnson& Johnson and Millennium Cities Initiative, hospital staff had been trained on how to stimulate breathing in the first moments after birth, and Saviour lived.

A Lifesaving Pilot Program

Only about half of all deliveries in Ghana are conducted by skilled birthing attendants. Only one in four newborns has access to medical care capable of responding to potential medical emergencies.

To promote maternal and neonatal health, more than 120 midwives, nurses and other health care professionals received training through the Neonatal Survival Program that will help ensure safe deliveries and survival through those early critical hours for new mothers and their babies. The program also teaches new mothers what symptoms or danger signs to look for in their babies, and when to seek medical attention. Approximately 3,500 new mothers are expected to benefit from the six-month pilot program.

One of the first mothers to join the program was Yaa Pokuaa, who gave birth to a baby girl she named Saviour at Suntreso Hospital, a Kumasi-based medical facility participating in this ground-breaking initiative. The newly trained birthing attendants could provide lifesaving medical care during birth and in the critical hours that followed.

Yaa Pokuaa is part of the education and outreach program that follows Saviour’s progress for the first six months of her life. Through regular check-ups, the hospital staff monitors her growth, gives her necessary vaccinations, and teaches Yaa Pokuaa basic newborn care and about common newborn illnesses. Saviour is now a happy, healthy baby

A health worker in Kumasi checks a baby’s vital signs. Photo by Markus Dlouhy.

Photo by Markus Dlouhy.

A health worker in Kumasi checks a baby’s vital signs.

More than 750 mothers and their babies registered for the program in just the first few months of its introduction at the participating health facilities. Each site participating in the project will continue registering mothers through March 2011.

Mothers in the program also receive hygiene and newborn care products from AmeriCares donated by AstraZeneca, Byram Healthcare, Cardinal Health, Johnson & Johnson and J. Knipper & Co.

This new mother education program, coupled with health worker training on neonatal survival, is expected to have a long-term, lifesaving impact for mothers and newborns in Accra and Kumasi, Ghana’s two largest metropolitan areas. Lessons learned from the pilot project will help in the rollout to additional sites. This initiative is sponsored by AmeriCares, Johnson & Johnson, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Ghana Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and the Millennium Cities Initiative.

AmeriCares delivers regular shipments of lifesaving medicines and medical supplies in Ghana to help local hospitals and clinics through a partnership with the Millennium Cities Initiative, a project of The Earth Institute at Columbia University.

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