Health professionals at the Unit have, over the years, managed a minimum of 30 preterm babies on monthly basis with only five functioning incubators out of nine, and one functioning cardiac monitor out of five.
“We can have two or three preterm babies in one incubator and all these 30 babies will have to be monitored every three to four hours. Ideally, it should be one baby to a monitor, which monitors other parameters apart from the vital signs, ” Madam Sheila Nigre, a Neonatal Nurse Specialist at the Unit, said.
She said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on the side-lines of a health screening exercise organised by her team for babies, especially preterm babies who had passed through the Unit.
It was part of activities to mark the World Prematurity Month ceremony usually observed in November.
With the few equipment shared among many preterm babies in the Unit, “the luxury is not there to keep a monitor on standby for one baby. Sometimes we have critically ill babies who should be placed on a monitor for 24 hours,” Madam Nigre said.
“We are really in critical need of cardiac monitors, incubators, radiant warmers, pulsometres, and a special equipment to help us monitor the bilirubin levels in the management of jaundice in these new born babies.”
Madam Nigre expressed gratitude to the UNICEF, BONABOTO, and the Action City Chapel, among other organisations and philanthropists who had supported the Unit to provide quality health care to preterm babies.
Ms Lawrencia Ngambire, an ENT Nurse (Ear, Nose and Throat) who examined the babies, told the GNA that some of the sensitive organs, especially the ear, nose and throat, might not be well developed and needed to be checked.
“So at this stage when we are able to do the screening, and there is any problem with these organs, we will be able to notice it for early intervention.”
Madam Baraka Salifu, mother of a two-year old baby boy who was born preterm, said: “I gave birth to this boy when he was 30 weeks. The birth weight was 1.3 kilograms, so we were here for almost two weeks.”
“It is not easy taking care of a preterm baby, the most important thing about preterm babies is the care. When they get the needed care, they grow well, the hygiene aspect is also very important, your personal and environmental hygiene must be taken seriously.”