246008 Community perceptions and practices regarding newborn health in Navrongo, Ghana

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 1:06 PM

Cyril M. Engmann, MD FAAP , Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of North Carolina Schools of Medicine and Public Health, Chapel Hill, NC
Cheryl Moyer, MPH , Global REACH, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI
Raymond Aborigo, MPH , Ghana Health Service, Navrongo Health Research Center, Navrongo, Ghana
Gideon Logonia, BA , Ghana Health Service, Navrongo Health Research Center, Navrongo, Ghana
Gideon Affah, BA , Ghana Health Service, Navrongo Health Research Center, Navrongo, Ghana
Abraham Hodgson, MD, PhD , Ghana Health Service, Navrongo Health Research Center, Navrongo, Ghana
Philip Adongo, PhD , Deparment of Community and Behavioral Medicine, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana
Purpose: More than 2 million newborn deaths occur each year in the home, therefore understanding community perceptions of neonatal illness is critical to developing effective neonatal mortality reduction programs. This study explored household beliefs and practices regarding neonatal illness in rural Kassena-Nankani District, Northern Ghana. Methods: 61 in-depth interviews were conducted with 35 women with newborn infants, 13 health care providers and 13 community leaders. Additionally, 18 focus group discussions were conducted among grandmothers, compound heads and mothers. All interviews and focus groups were audiotaped, transcribed into English and imported into NVivo 9.0. Results: Respondents clearly recognized danger signs of illness in the pregnant mother and infant. Responses to that recognition varied, with some respondents suggesting immediate referral to health facilities and others opting for traditional healers, particularly for “we yuu zugah” (convulsions). Traditional practices varied widely for newborns with breathing difficulties, with many respondents applying water or a poultice to the newborn's chest or beating a hoe or implement close to the ear. All respondents knew about the presence of health facilities, and many were aware of the value of preventive care. Husbands were responsible for offering sacrifices and interfacing with sooth-sayers, while grandmothers were the decision-makers regarding facility-based attendance, bathing and praying. Conclusions and implications: Traditional practices surrounding neonatal health in rural Ghana are widespread and do not always match clinical recommendations. Fathers and grandmothers play a pivotal role in the household management of newborn illness and should be included in any program interventions.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Participants will be able to: 1) Describe community perceptions of infant illness in rural northern Ghana 2) List some of the traditional practices with regard to management of illness in this population 3) Identify key participants in infant care in northern Ghana

Keywords: Infant Health, Infant Mortality

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a practicing neonatologist, consultant to the World Health Organization, and Principal Investigator on this study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.