Ghana launches Newborn Action Plan under banner of A Promise Renewed

In Ghana, one newborn child dies every 15 minutes, and 30,000 newborn deaths are recorded annually. These deaths account for 40 per cent of under-five mortality in Ghana, and are often the result of preterm and intrapartum complications, infections and low birth weight.

Responding to these challenges, on July 31, Ghana launched the National Newborn Health Strategy and Action Plan during an executive national forum on the theme “Unite to Save Newborns: A Promise Renewed”, held in Accra.


Ghana’s new plan sets out ambitious new targets around neonatal mortality, aiming to reduce the number of babies who die during their first 28 days of life from 32 per 1000 to 21 by 2018. The plan focusses on proven, affordable interventions such as keeping babies warm, early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding, timely infection management and hygienic umbilical cord care. The plan also includes an important focus on policy support, promoting policies which build the capacity of health systems and health workers, and which strengthen monitoring and evaluation.

Ghana’s plan incorporates the targets set in UNICEF’s Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed as well as a Ghana-specific target for 2018. The plan contains a provisional costing for the 14 strategies outlined in the plan.

Launching the strategy, Dr Kwaku Agyeman Mensah, Minister of Health (MOH), said it was ethically and morally right to save the life of every newborn by investing in the lives of all newborns, stressing that “Every newborn, every child, and every pregnant woman has the right to live.” The Minister emphasized that investing in newborns meant investing in the foundation of generations, of entrepreneurs and of skilled personnel who would work to build the country.

Dr Mensah underlined the high priority placed on child health by the government of Ghana, and invited stakeholders from all sectors to take action to promote newborn health.

Dr Isabella Sagoe-Moses, National Child Health Coordinator, and a member of National Working Group of the Strategy, said although Ghana had reduced the national overall under-five mortality rate in the last decades, that change is largely a result of improvements to the health of infants and older children, with progress among newborns lagging behind.


Declines in neonatal mortality have not kept pace with overall trends, and newborns now account for a greater proportion of total under-five deaths, compared with five years ago. Dr Sagoe-Moses stressed that the sharpened strategy would take an integrated approach to saving lives and improving health for Ghana’s newborns and their mothers.

Ms Susan Ngongo, United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative, called for consolidated efforts from political, traditional and civil society organizations to address newborn deaths.

Mr Andrew Karas, Deputy Mission Director, USAID, emphasized the need to identify gaps, build health systems for long-term access to health and to ensure that health systems help save newborn lives.

The launch event was also addressed by National Chief Imam, Sheikh Nuhu Sharabutu, members of Parliament, Hip-life musician Sarkodie, and other dignitaries, all of whom pledged their support for the strategy to prevent newborn deaths.

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