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Tamale Teaching Hospital adjudged best neonatal facility in Ghana



The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH ) has been rated the best united facility in Ghana by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
According to UNICEF, the unit is the only teaching neonatal intensive care facility which records over one thousand pre-mature births per year.

These pre-mature babies are drawn from the northern region, some parts of the Volta, Upper East, Upper West, Brong Ahafo regions and parts of Togo and the southern parts of Burkina Faso.

The acting chief executive officer and director of medical affairs, Dr Adam Abass announced this when the Chief Representative of JICA Mr Koji Makino visited the TTH to interact with health officials who studied in Japan, as part of his three-day working visit to the northern region.

According to Dr Abass, the current CEO, Dr Prosper Akanbon was one of the first beneficiaries of the JICA program some five years ago before others at the TTH went to learn best practices at hospitals in Japan with state-of-the-art facilities.

The head of the pediatric unit, Dr Mumuni Alhassan and some staff members also benefitted from the largess of the JICA and since their return from Japan, there has been tremendous improvement in the management of child health at TTH, Dr Abass explained.

On child and infant mortality, Dr Abass commended the JICA for extending its support to improve healthcare delivery in northern Ghana.

Workers’ experience

A nurse at the hospital’s newborn care ward, who went to Japan, Mr. Augustine Lambonmung described his experience in Japan as very rewarding because Japan is one of the countries with the lowest infant and maternal mortality in the world.

The implementation of their experience in Japan, Mr Lambonmung said, has led to the reduction of mortality in the neonatal ward. “It was in Japan I learnt that, you don’t necessarily need to have the best medical equipment or gadgets before you provide health care to a newborn,” he revealed.

“Disposal of things after usage, separating items properly was among some of the things we learnt and called for more support from JICA for health workers, Mr. Augustine stated.
The head of the pediatric unit, Dr Abdul Mumuni Alhassan said his six weeks training in maternal and child health was an exceptional situation, which could have slipped from the hands of the TTH. The Hospital, Dr Alhassan explained, was operating without a newborn care unit even though it is a teaching hospital and a training ground for medical students.

Babies, Dr Alhassan said, were crowded with their mothers in a very small room and there was the need for decent and large number of newborns and their mothers. “My exposure in Japan helps me in soliciting more support for the unit and also makes me more aware about punctuality at work, as well as respect for time as a health worker”.

Dr Alhassan noted that one of the reasons why Ghana was not able to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs 4) was “because we forgot about the newborn when the country was planning for the care of the child.”


The challenges facing the unit now, Dr Alhassan said, was inadequate incubators and ventilators to provide warmth for babies.

The profile of babies admitted, he said, has changed because admissions are now on small babies due to resource limitation. In 2010 it was about 19 percent for the newborn, meaning if hundred babies admitted into the ward, 19 will die before they are discharged.

As at the end of 2015, it was 13 percent, a six percent reduction and relatively 40 percent reduction over the last five years. About 1,500 babies are admitted and mortality is around 150 in a year. He however downplayed the figures because according to him, in the health fraternity it is the ratios that matter.

Nursing mothers at the neonatal care unit currently sleep outside, under the mercy of bad weather because the space inside can only contain five babies at a time. The mistake Ghana made in meeting the MDGs 4&5 was neglecting babies and concentrating only on nursing mothers. Housing both was a major challenge and the strategy now is to adopt the Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) practice, which provides a bed for mother and the baby in an adult bed but the space is for five.

“We try sending some of the mothers home but that also puts stress on the nurses. The psychological wellbeing of mothers can impact negatively on the way they take care of babies and called for support to have enough decent accommodation to nursing mothers,” Dr Alhassan stated.

The jiCA Chief Representative, Mr. Makino said the health sector is one of the priority areas of Japan government in Ghana and will in the coming years expand its co-operation beyond the upper west and northern regions in the six thematic areas it is focusing on.

Three thousand, five hundred Ghanaians have been trained so far by the government of Japan in the areas of health, education and agriculture, since the two countries established a bilateral relationship in 1977, about some 40 years ago.

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