It’s criminal to ignore threat of jaundice to newborns – Paediatricians told

Dr Bright Danyoh, Head of the Paediatric and Child Health sub-BMC of the Ho Teaching Hospital has cautioned paediatric nurses and midwives not to downplay the severity of jaundice in newborns.

He said it must be considered an act of crime to ignore the risks of the neonatal jaundice, a disease that threatens almost all newborns with brain damage, loss of eyesight and death.

Dr Danyoh gave the caution at the launch of the 2024 Newborn Jaundice Awareness month.

The celebration was on the theme: ‘The Newborn Jaundice and Exclusive Breastfeeding: Nurses and Midwives Lead,’

Present at the Launch were members of the Paediatric and Child Health Sub BMC.

The admonition was against the realisation of the role of health workers in the rising incidents of the disease, and stakeholders at the event spoke of how some paediatricians and midwives were found to dismiss the suspicions of mothers although jaundice remained the leading cause of newborn admission.

Dr Danyoh said despite successes with awareness campaigns,
the attitude of health workers caused severe newborn jaundice to remain a challenge.

He said there was fear of health workers giving out wrong information and false hopes and insisted that they had no right to ignore the signs of the disease.

‘It is criminal not to know the bilirubin levels of new borns and tell the mothers to go home,’ Dr. Danyoh said adding that nurses’ knowledge on early detection would be strengthened through training.

‘These things are really going on,’ Mary Kutsi, Nurse Manager of the Paediatric unit lamented, sharing details of how mothers lost their babies after health workers waved off their suspicions.

She said midwives and paediatricians were found to often shrug suspicious mothers off and ask them to apply the conventional sunlight therapy, and that such were the cause of late referrals.

‘Mothers take these advises and before they realise it’s too late. We need to advocate more because it is causing a lot of damage to the community,’ the Nurse Manager said.

Dr. Edem Sarbah a
lead paediatrician in the Region also said, ‘Mothers are picking up public awareness, but they come to meet health workers who turn them back’

‘Let’s make sure we get the right information and do what must be done.’

Ms Gift Dravie, in charge of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), noted that the year 2022 remains the highest with admissions for neonatal jaundice with a total 415 cases, and that that the success also was that death rates remained ‘very low’.

She also attested to increased awareness among mothers and care givers, saying, ‘more mothers are reporting on their own to the clinic and it shows our advocacy is working.’

Ms. Dravie would use the moment to draw stakeholder attention to the need for equipment, saying the unit worked with limited phototherapy machines and test equipment.

Madam Perfect Titianti, Ho Municipal Director of Health Services chaired complimented the Sub BMC for ‘the passion and commitment to the issues’ and said the Health Directorate would collaborate to ensure babies
with challenges were promptly referred.

Ms Evelyn Sunnu, Acting Head of Department Midwifery at the UHAS School of Nursing and Midwifery delivered the keynote address and said education on neonatal jaundice should begin at pregnancy, and that health workers must reconsider visiting mothers in their homes after delivery to monitor the babies.

Source: Ghana News Agency