A Specialist Pediatrician at the Department of Child Health at the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital, Dr.Joan Efua Tuko Woode has indicated that out of 4,758 admissions at the Department of Child health, the Hospital recorded 411 cases of neonatal jaundice (NNJ) in newborn babies representing 9% of admissions in 2019.
The figure represents a sharp drop from the condition as compared to 2015 (11%) where the hospital recorded a total of 595 cases of NNJ with 22 diagnoses of acute bilirubin encephalopathy.
She made this known at a Jaundice Awareness Conference organized by Africa Health Supplies (AHS) in Accra.
Mrs. Woode added that NNJ occurred when there was a break down of the red blood cell, infection, enclosed bleeds, enzyme defects and blood group incompatibility (ABO, Rhesus).
Mrs. Tuko Woode urged parents to desist from the practice of resorting to home remedies such as putting children under direct sunlight as against taking children to hospitals for further diagnosis and treatment.
She explained that “NNJ is best treated when detected early which will prevent death and permanent disability with the use of phototherapy machine as well as exchange of blood transfusion.”
Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare, former Director General of Ghana Health Service, disclosed that it was important to detect jaundice early enough for monitoring and treatment.
He added that “if mothers detect NNJ early, treatment would be given to the child.”
Dr. Asare noted that every district hospital and regional hospital must have laboratory facility to help diagnose and monitor the detection of NNJ.
He added that everybody connected to child health care, especially midwives, nurses and doctors should help detect jaundice for treatment as quickly as possible on the infant.
He also advised that mothers must be educated on NNJ for prevention.
Dr. Isabella Sagoe-Moses, Ag. Director, Family Health Division of Ghana Health Service on her part stated that there was a national newborn strategy and action plan for the year (2019-2023) which was aimed at contributing to the reduction of neonatal mortality rate from 25 per 1000 live births in 2017 to 18 per1000 live births in 2023.
She added that the action plan would again contribute to the reduction of institutional total still birth rate from 15 per 1000 (1.5%) of total birth in 2017 to 10 per 1000 (1%) of total births in 2023 as well as a reduction of fresh (intrapartum) stillbirth rate from 60% of total stillbirths in 2017 to 40% total stillbirth in 2023.