World Prematurity Day, 2018: Working together; Partnering with families in the care of small and sick newborns
World Prematurity Day, 2018: Working together; Partnering with families in the care of small & sick newborns
Overview of World Prematurity Day
November 17th is a day set aside internationally to call attention to the most vulnerable members of every society in the world – babies born prematurely. On this day awareness is raised on the challenges faced by preterm infants and their families.
- Every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born prematurely worldwide (before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed), and this number is rising.
- Preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age, responsible for approximately 1 million deaths in 2015.
- Across 184 countries, the rate of preterm birth ranges from 5% to 18% of babies born.
- In Kenya, an estimated 188,000 babies are born prematurely every year and close to 14,000 die due to health complications.
- Kenya is among the top 15 countries in the world with the highest rates of premature births, at 12% (1 in every 8 babies born in the country is a preterm baby).
- More than 75% of all preterm deaths can be prevented if mothers and babies have access to good quality health care.
- Essential newborn care (drying, warming, immediate and exclusive breastfeeding, hygiene and cord care), as well as basic care for feeding support, infections and breathing difficulties can make the difference between life and death.
- Low-cost, high-impact interventions such as Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), a technique where newborns are put on their mother’s chest, with skin-to-skin contact, encourages bonding between mothers and babies, reduces infections and encourages the baby to breastfeed, often leading to faster and stronger development.
- Empowering parents of preterm babies with information and psycho-social support plays a significant role in improving the health outcomes of preterm babies.
In embracing this year’s World Prematurity Day theme of Family Centred Care, Strathmore University Medical Centre, in collaboration with Preemie Love Foundation organized, a commemoration of this day and brought together families that have experienced the birth of a preterm baby and various partners working within the maternal and newborn space, in a forum of engagement and knowledge/information sharing.
In attendance were the hosts, Strathmore University Medical Centre, Kenya Paediatric Association, PATH, Save The Children and mothers from Preemie Love Foundation.
Various presentations were made bringing out the crucial role exclusive breastfeeding plays in improving the health outcomes of preterm babies. A special presentation was made by PATH on Human Milk Banking, an innovation that aims at ensuring equitable access to human milk for all preterm babies, especially those who don’t have access to their own mother’s milk owing to death or sickness.
A conversation on breastfeeding cannot be fully exhausted without a conversation on maternal mental health, Dr. Freda Mwende a Psychologist was there to provide insights on how the two issues are interlinked.
Preemie Love Foundation supports families that have experienced the premature birth of a baby. This is done through the creation of support networks for mothers of preterm babies and through these networks, psychosocial, nutritional and informational support is given to the families.
Preemie Love was founded by Ruby Kimondo, motivated by her own personal experiences with prematurity. She is married with four children. She experienced severe preeclampsia in all four pregnancies leading to three of her babies being born at 28, 30 and 34 weeks. Her third pregnancy was managed well into week 38, thus giving her the only full term baby out of the four.
Ruby also works in mentoring services as a part-time student mentor and is an alumna of Strathmore University.
This article was written by Harriet Koyoson.
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