Six Districts in the Upper East Region depend on two functioning baby incubators for the management of preterm babies at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the Zebilla Hospital.
The districts are Bawku West, Binduri, Garu, Pusiga, Tempane and the Bawku Municipality; that depend on three functioning radiate warmers out of five, at the hospital.
The NICU, which was established by management of the hospital with the support of UNICEF, a non-government organisation, in May 2021, started operations with one baby incubator, but subsequently received two additional ones from some benevolent individuals to cater for the high admissions in the Unit.
The Unit on the average receives about three admissions every day from across the six Districts, and information from the hospital indicates that more than 500 babies were admitted in the first half of 2023.
Mr. Christopher Saganma Nambileeb, the Unit in-charge, who disclosed this to the Ghana News Agency, said they received babies from across all the six Districts, and therefore, appealed to Government, Non-Governmental Organizations, philanthropists, and individuals for more incubators to serve their teeming clients.
“The admissions are so much, if we had space and enough incubators, we would manage them. You can imagine, health facilities in Bawku Municipality call with preterm cases, Garu and the rest of them call, and sometimes they do not call, but come.
“When we try to refer them to the Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga, it becomes an issue, and as professionals, who are advocates for our clients, we would not want them to be stranded, we have to find places for them, and they may not get the best of care,” he noted.
He said with the two functioning baby incubators, staff of the Unit had over the years prioritized the care of preterm babies, “So when we have about five babies in need of incubators, we prioritize.
“We look at the gestational ages of the babies, the danger signs, and if the babies have no danger signs, we immediately lay such babies under radiate warmers. If they are stable under the warmers, we move them onto the Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) management,” he said.
KMC is the act of putting a baby, skin to skin on the mother in a kangaroo position, and has a clinic, which was initiated by the Momentum Country Ghana Limited (MCGL) and UNICEF, Non-Governmental Organizations, and ran by staff of the NICU to complement the two functioning incubators.
“Because we do not have enough incubators, the KMC clinic comes to supplement the incubators. So, we manage the preterm babies together with the mothers, we teach them how to do the KMC, what to do and what not to do with the preterm babies.
“With that, the mothers become used to it, and they can assist in caring for the babies with the limited resources we have. We currently have five babies, and all of them cannot be in an incubator at the same time.
Mr. Nambileeb noted that despite the limited resources in the Unit, they had achieved a lot of successes since the Unit was established.
“We managed a 25 weeks’ gestation baby who survived and is doing well now, the baby is almost two years now. When we were managing, some Doctors came from Accra and were surprised. They called it an abortion, but we managed, and the baby survived,” he recalled.
The Unit in-charge expressed gratitude to MCGL, UNICEF, staff of the Unit and management of the hospital for the continuous support and reiterated his appeal for more baby incubators and space in the Unit to enable them function effectively.