Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Helping Babies Breathe



Neonatal Mortality

Ghana has gradually reduced its neonatal mortality rate although in 2016 it still remained more than two times higher than the Sustainable Development Goal target. Ghana is on par with the level achieved by the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and lags behind those classified as low and middle income.  There is also a significant difference between the neonatal mortality rate in urban and rural areas.

It is widely acknowledged that supervised delivery reduces the risk of complications and infections during childbirth, thereby decreasing both neonatal and maternal mortality. The 2012 Ghana Demographic Health Survey shows that three quarters of all maternal deaths occur during birth and the immediate post-partum period as a direct result of low levels of skilled birth attendance. Ensuring care provided by skilled professionals during pregnancy and childbirth is a critical intervention for safe birth and motherhood.

Neonatal resuscitation training in 2015

In 2015 Golden Star and the Golden Star Development Foundation partnered to bring the Project C.U.R.E. Helping Babies Breathe program to our Wassa East catchment communities. The 4-day neo-natal resuscitation training for 40 health professionals resulted in immediate tangible benefits.

In a brief testimony Ms. Comfort Yamoah, Physician Assistant and Head of Ateiku sub-district health directorate at the time, observed that the training was a tremendous opportunity for improved delivery skills. She noted the program had led to improved neonatal survival and reduced referrals to other facilities, and the supply of equipment was well-timed as most facilities lacked these resources.

The District Public Health Nurse, Ms. Patience Otoo, said that neonatal death had decreased from 1.1% to 0.06% per 100 live births from 2014 to 2015 in just one year since the program inception!

With the success of the program, in 2017 Golden Star raised funds to support two further Helping Babies Breathe programs. They were conducted for over 70 health professionals from our Prestea Huni-Valley and Wassa Amenfi districts in March 2018!

Widening the Scope of the Project

With the objective of bringing neonatal resuscitation training to our other catchment communities, in 2018 Golden Star again partnered with Project C.U.R.E., Ghana Health Services and the Ministry of Health to deliver the invaluable Helping Babies Breathe Program.

The Helping Babies Breathe program was  delivered to over 70 nurses and encompassed additional Master training for six of the program participants.

Trainees in a practical session

All successful participants were provided with resuscitation and suction kits, as well a certificate of participation. Master Trainer kits were also provided to each of the six Master trainers, who will now provide ongoing training within the Ghana Health Services system to further expand the availability of skilled birth assistance. 


Helping Babies Breath trainees and Master trainers

Project C.U.R.E facilitating the Helping Babies Breath (HBB) Training

Immediate Impact

Professionals from Wassa Akropong Government Hospital, Prestea Government Hospital, Esikuma CHPS, Insu Siding CHPS, Aboso Health Centre, Himan Health Centre and Bogoso Health Centre participated in the training, with Master trainers also selected from amongst these locations. 

Within less than a month, the Master trainers at the Bogoso Health Centre had already conducted ‘second generation’ training session to the wider staff group from the centre, with a further 20 people already trained under the program.

Trainees in a round table discussion with instructors

So let’s find out what the participants see as the impact of the program:


Wassa-Akropong Government Hospital


Evelyn            Margaret            Bernice            Zakia              Millicent

“I have attended workshops before but this workshop is a very important one. Neonatal mortality in the district and Ghana is still high. This training has really made an impact on me and I know it will have a great impact on my community. I really appreciate Golden Star and its partners.”

“I am really impressed and excited, having learnt a lot and improved my skills. I believe it will go a long way to improve the way we go about things and I am very grateful.”

“This is one of the best and most powerful workshops I have ever had.”

“This workshop has been very educative and has enlightened me to some new practices and has opened my eyes to the bad ones we practiced before. I thank Golden Star and their partners for a well-considered program and a job well done.”

“It was a very interesting and helpful program to me as an individual and my clients. The training made me realize that we were doing so many things in the wrong manner. Now that we know the standard and best practice, we will do our best to make all changes implemented.”

Bogoso Health Centre

  Sarah                  Daphne

“Being a master trainer has helped and benefited me in so many ways and I am very thankful that I was selected. In fact it has shaped and improved my skills and it has also helped my facility because I have been able to train some of our staff. Soon the others will follow and every worker in my facility will be ambassadors of helping babies breathe!”

“As a Master trainer my learning is more intense and I am aiming to create a safe and positive learning environment like I had. We are teaching birth attendants about how to care for newborns to reduce neonatal mortality. Practice they say enhances perfection. I thank my facilitators and Golden Star and we promise to be neonatal live savers.”

Prestea Government Hospital

   Jonathan               Linda     

“The program has been very effective and purposeful and I have learnt a lot of new skills. Though we were doing the things expected of us in our facilities, they were not the best.  I learnt new things like how important it is to ensure skin to skin contact between the mother and the baby to ensure warmth for six hours before a bath and the best way to treat and talk to our clients. Well done Golden Star.”

“The training taught me a lot of things and with this knowledge acquired, I trust that I will be able to improve the knowledge to others as well. As a master trainer this will help me train the staff and organize refresher trainings for them, most especially those of us in the maternity unit so that we keep ourselves updated all the time.”

Esikuma CHPS, Insu Siding CHPS, Aboso Health Centre, Himan Health Centre

        Wisdom         Helena          Rakia             Mercy             Helena            

“I thank the organizers and our facilitators for equipping some of us with these important and educative best standard practices.”

“As a master trainer I have acquired a lot of knowledge and potential that will help me train my colleagues and keep our babies alive. Being part of the master trainers has built my confidence so much and is an opportunity to help others as well. I am grateful to my instructors and Golden Star and I promise to implement what I have learnt.”

“This training is very educative and has taught us how to prepare an emergency plan so that during delivery we can manage cases without panicking.”

“I am grateful and happy as a master trainer. It has improved my skills in neonatal resuscitation and things have been put in place to train the rest of the workforce in and outside our district. Thank you Golden Star for always having us at heart.”

“I believe this training is very necessary and important. I didn’t know that not every baby needs suctioning and this has empowered me to do more and to address specific needs for each baby.”

Master trainers in a demonstration session with their trainees

One Last Word

Philipa Varris, Golden Star’s Vice President of Corporate Responsibility conducts periodic reviews of all partnership programs to check the ongoing sustainability of the initiatives. Hear what she has to say:

“When conducting one of my reviews I was able to meet some health centre staff that had been trained under the Helping Babies Breathe initiative. I asked one young nurse what he thought and rather than saying how valuable the program was, he just pointed to a small toddler under a nearby tree.  I shrugged my shoulders as if to say “what do you mean?” and before I could finish, he said “I saved that baby’s life because of your program!” His declaration brought tears to my eyes. A precious life saved! Even more importantly, he was a second or third generation trainee – he had not been trained by Project CURE, but had been trained by one of the Ghana Health Services Master trainers! That is sustainability!”

If you'd like to find out more about Golden Star and its approach to CSR, please visit www.gsr.com/responsibility



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