HEALTH:Health workers urged to rededicate themselves to improve child care
The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has called on all stakeholders within the health sector to rededicate themselves to improve care for children under five.
The improved care must span the entire continuum of care from conception through delivery and post natal period to the fifth year of life to ensure that the current under five mortality rate of 80 deaths per 1000 live births was reduced to meet the country’s target of 40 deaths per 1000 live births by 2015.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency yesterday, Dr Kwabena Opoku Adusei, President of GMA said currently, there were 40 per cent of under five deaths and 60 per cent of infant deaths happening in the neonatal age group and called for the need for all stakeholders to pay more attention to newborns that were dying primarily from neonatal sepsis, prematurity and asphyxia.
Sharing the Association’s expectations from the new government, Dr Opoku Adusei explained that doctors needed to take a more proactive leadership role that would help improve under five care.
He also expressed concern about the current three months Maternity Leave and called for a review of the labour laws to grant mothers six months of maternity leave and the mandatory establishment of nurseries in all public and private institutions to encourage exclusive breastfeeding among all working nursing mothers.
He explained that given the proven benefits of six months of exclusive breastfeeding to the newborn and although legally, nursing mothers were entitled to a maternity leave of three months with other provisions to either report to work two hours after commencement of work and/or close from work an hour earlier with allowable breaks for breastfeeding their infants.
“Practically these are not strictly adhered to, rather, expectant mothers are asked to start their maternity leave six weeks prior to delivery in most cases.”
He mentioned the lack of nurseries in institutions of work to allow nursing mothers to breastfeed infants during their breastfeeding breaks as negatively impacting efforts at ensuring that all newborns were exclusively breastfed.
"This has resulted in the use of formula feeds, which may be expensive and cumbersome to prepare leading to the loss of all the health benefits of breast milk."
The GMA President called on health facilities to ensure that they were truly baby friendly and also ensure that newborns were put to the breast within 30 minutes of delivery.