GHS phases out methylated spirit for treatment of umbilical cord

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The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has completely eliminated methylation in dressing and caring for the umbilical cord among newborns.

The service has approved, according to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, chlorhexidine, an antiseptic that has been found to be most effective in preventing umbilical cord infections in newborns.

Therefore, she urged new mothers to take the new policy into consideration and refrain from using unauthorized substances in the treatment of the umbilical cord, stressing that doing so could put the lives of their children at risk.

At a press conference in Accra yesterday, GHS’s Deputy Director of the Family Health Division, Dr Isabella Sago Moses, said the new policy was in response to a WHO recommendation in 2018 that countries with a high mortality rate at the time adopted chlorhexidine as a better way to prevent Umbilical cord infection.

She said that adopting chlorhexidine in umbilical cord care in newborns would reduce neonatal mortality and morbidity in the country.

“The methylated spirit was changed to chlorhexidine because chlorhexidine is a better antiseptic to prevent umbilical cord injury, and it is more effective,” she said.

Dr. Sago Moses added: “Immediately after birth, as soon as the umbilical cord is cut, chlorhexidine is placed and the mother is given a tube of chlorhexidine to take home to be applied daily to the umbilical cord until it falls and heals.”

Child Health Week

The press conference formed part of the activities on the occasion of Child Health Promotion Week 2021 (CHPW), which started yesterday (Monday 10 May 2021) and ends Friday 14 May 2021.

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The GHS established the Community Health System in 2004 as one of the sustainable ways to improve the coverage of preventive interventions for children.

The aim was, among other things, to reduce child mortality and morbidity by creating awareness of increased demand for basic child health services.

Among the services commonly provided during CHPW are child immunization and vitamin A supplementation; Monitoring and promoting growth; Provide nutritional advice and support for optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding, and promote the use of insecticide-treated nets.

This year’s exercise is on the theme: “Maintaining child health services in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Explaining some of the achievements made by CHPW, Dr. Sajwi Musa said that the initiative contributed to reducing the mortality rate for children under the age of five from 111 per 1,000 live births to 52 per 1,000 live births.

“Significant gains have been made,” she said, “Our records indicate a 53 per cent reduction in the mortality rate for children under five years of age between 2003 and 2014.”

Wider coverage

GHS Director-General, Dr. Patrick Kuma Aboaji, said that although basic child health services are always available at public health facilities and outreach points, they are not routinely accessed by everyone, hence the need for increased awareness.

He said the implementation of the Social Health and Labor Law has contributed to a steady increase in the percentage of children under two years who have been fully immunized, among other achievements.

“The Ghanaian Ministry of Health and Health Service urges the general public to support measures that save lives and prevent disability by ensuring that children under the age of five can fully benefit from all services provided in childcare clinics,” he said.


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