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Rise in preterm births in Upper East Regional Hospital linked to ethnic conflict in Bawku

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Dr. Gillian Bogee, the Senior Medical Officer and Head of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Upper East Regional Hospital, has raised alarm over a rising trend of preterm births recorded at the facility. She says the unit attends cases in the Bolgatanga Municipality, parts of the North East region, neighbouring Burkina Faso and Togo. 

Dr. Bogee says half of the over 1,000 births recorded at the facility from January to October were preterm babies.

“From January to October, we had a total number of admissions of 1,152, and out of that number, 530 were low birth weight babies. Out of the 530, we lost 25 of them, and these 25 low-birth-weight babies that passed on were not on Kangaroo Mother Care. They were on the ward being managed for other serious medical conditions and some were also referred from neighbouring facilities with very serious medical conditions.”

Dr. Bogee attributes this rise to heightened stress, elevated blood pressure, and anxiety experienced by pregnant women amid the ethnic conflict in Bawku. 

“Some of the mothers had low BP, some were not eating well, some were undernourished, and these are some of the things that can predispose the mother to have a preterm delivery”, Dr. Gillian Bogee said to the media at the regional hospital on Friday in commemoration of World Prematurity Day. 

“Again, the conflict and the elevation of stress hormones in these women can also predispose these women to having preterm delivery. It is not just Bawku, it is in the Upper East region. When they [pregnant women] are in Bawku and the place gets full, the next referral centre is the regional hospital. The conflict, stress, anxiety, and uncertainty can predispose them to having preterm deliveries. We are seeing a rise in preterm deliveries in the Upper East region”, she stated. 

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the regional hospital, which specialises in caring for premature infants, has a 21-bed capacity with admissions of about 25 to 32 babies a week. Dr. Bogee who disclosed this, added that the unit has two doctors, “which is woefully inadequate.”

She recommended caring for preterm babies using Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), a method of carrying infants with skin-to-skin contact.

Dr. Aiden Suntaa Saanwie, Medical Director of the Upper East Regional Hospital, said the hospital’s NICU currently has six incubators, which is not enough to cater to the rising number of preterm babies recorded. He commended UNICEF, CRS, and BONABOTO-UK for their support in establishing the NICU, stating that the unit needs to be expanded to cater to the increasing number of cases recorded.

Source: A1Radioonline.com|101.1Mhz|Joshua Asaah|Bolgatanga|Ghana

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