Ghana has been recording about 128,000 premature births every year, and doctors are advocating cost effective care to save them from dying.
Dr. Rita Fosu-Yeboah, a Paediatrician, said 75 per cent of deaths among them was preventable.
It was important to make deliberate effort to teach health workers and mothers about how to properly take care of such babies.
Speaking at the celebration of this year’s ‘World Preterm Day’ in Kumasi, she said they needed to be assisted to practice the ‘Kangaroo Mother Care’.
This involves ‘skin-to-skin positioning of low birth weight baby upright between the mother’s breast or adult’s chest’ and exclusive breastfeeding.
Dr. Fosu-Yeboah, additionally urged early discharge and frequent follow-up visits to the hospital.
She encouraged women to access health care before and during pregnancy and said that was vital to prevent preterm births.
Premature births are an enormous global problem that is exacting a huge toll emotionally, physically and financially on families, medical systems and economies.
Identified causes include multiple pregnancy, urinary tract infections in pregnancy, hypertension, pre-eclampsia, diabetes in pregnancy, malnutrition and inadequate antenatal care.
Teenage pregnancy, close spacing of pregnancies, smoking, alcohol and illegal use of drugs and domestic violence are the other factors.
Dr. Fosu-Yeboah indicated that the survival of premature babies must become a collective responsibility, and said ‘let us change the face of prematurity through our understanding, sharing of knowledge and working together’.