KBTH records high rate of jaundice

Residents going through teeth screening during the exercise.Photo.Ebo Gorman

Residents going through teeth screening during the exercise.Photo.Ebo Gorman

The Child Health Unit of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) has observed an increase in cases of jaundice among babies between zero and one year old.

According to Head of the Unit, Dr. Ebenezer Badoe, his outfit records about four to ten cases of jaundice in newborns every week at its emergency wards, out of which at least one has reached a chronic stage.

“On the sub-region, neonatal deaths are quite high with 28 per 1000 babies dying before age five. Currently, we are recording high numbers of children below one year dying or suffering a deformity from jaundice, a condition that can be cured when detected early.

Most mothers do not bother when babies start developing yellowish skin or eyes at birth and once the disease gets to the brain it damages the child for life. This is the leading cause of cerebral palsy in the country,” he told the Ghanaian Times.

Dr. Badoe was speaking on the sidelines of a free health screening programme organised for residents within Jamestown, a suburb of Accra, on Friday.

The exercise which had about 200 people patronising it as of midday, screened patients for child diseases, eye and dental infections as well as ear, nose and throat conditions.

Organised by the College of Health Sciences (CHS) of the University of Ghana, Legon, the outreach formed part of activities marking the 70th anniversary celebrations of the premier University.

The year-long event is on the theme; “UG @ 70, Celebrating Excellence, Shaping the Future.”

The Neuro-Peadiatrician condemned practices where parents exposed babies to sunlight in the hope of curing jaundice adding that, “for all you know the yellow colour may be gone on the body but the disease is still in the blood and we will have to run a test to change the blood before it gets worst.”

“If the baby is born yellow, it is already a serious case. It is abnormal and you need to see a doctor immediately else it may lead to outright damage of the brain. Aside yellowness of the skin or eyes, if the child is refusing to breastfeed, eat or is behaving abnormally, it is a cause for concern,” he cautioned mothers.

Dr. Badoe challenged the government to invest into early and good health practices for children to secure the future.

“Children’s health is very important because they are the future of our labour force. As a country, we have to invest into early and good health practices for children. If they are healthy, they grow into a healthy work force but if they start off with ill health, the future is already threatened as they die early.

As a country, let us make sure children fewer than five years are well taken care of and put the basic amenities in place to care for them,” he urged.

A Resident Dentist at the KBTH, Dr. Dennis Aprese on his part encouraged parents to imbibe into children good dental practices including brushing of the teeth twice daily to prevent dental problems.

“Tooth decay and gum problems are the major conditions we detect among children and we find that it is as result of the diet given to the children. Parents should help children brush their teeth, stop giving them too many sweets and ensure they visit the dentist at least every six months,” he advised.

Dr. Emmanuel Tsegah, the Principal Medical Officer, CHS, indicated that the College will subsequently hold health talks, walks and a scientific conference to mark the anniversary celebrations.

He urged Ghanaians to take their healthcare seriously to promote national development.

By Abigail Annoh

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