Ghana Medical Journal

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Admissions and mortality over a 5-year period in a limited-resource neonatal unit in Ghana

Adziri H. Sackey, Lily G Tagoe


Objective: To review admissions and deaths at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), Ghana from 2011 to 2015, for the purposes of documentation of outcomes and identification of areas for improvement.

Design: A retrospective descriptive study of NICU Admissions & Discharges from 2011 to 2015. All data in the NICU Admissions & Discharge books were transferred into a spreadsheet and analysed.
Setting – The NICU of KBTH provides secondary and tertiary care for premature and critically ill term babies in the southern half of Ghana.

Results: Over the 5-year period, 9213 babies were admitted to the NICU. Admission weights ranged from 300 to 6700g with median of 2400g. Overall mortality rate was 19.2%. Mortality rates were progressively and significantly higher in babies with lower admission weights and earlier gestations.

Conclusions: We report a high NICU mortality rate of 19.2%, compared to the worldwide range of 3.1% to 29%. This wide range of outcomes is attributable to differences in the severity of illness of patients and to the organisation of resources devoted to obstetric and neonatal care. To substantially improve perinatal and neonatal outcomes, there is a need for wider coverage and better quality of health care; and to consider rationing of care. Complex interventions are necessary to improve outcomes, not just an increase in the allocation of particular resources.

Keywords: Intensive Care, Neonatal; developing countries; mortality rate

Funding: None declared
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