As the world marks the 2019 World Prematurity Day (WPD), experts have advised government and parents with preterm babies to adopt strategies that would help prevent deaths.
The experts gave the advice during a WPD Walk and Preterm Party organised by Outreach Women and Children’s Hospital, Festac Town in Lagos on Sunday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that WPD is marked globally on Nov. 17, annually, to call attention to the heavy burden of death and disability, pain and suffering that preterm births cause.
The theme for 2019 is: ‘Born too Soon: Providing the right care, at the right time, in the right place.’
A premature birth is one which occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
The Chief Operating Officer of the Hospital, Dr Segun Ebitanmi, said the Walk was to inform the populace about the solutions available to reduce the deaths and sufferings for preterm babies.
“One out of 10 babies born is premature and one out of four will die.
“These children don’t need to die because there are ways and techniques, tools and technologies that can be used to keep them alive,” he said.
Also, the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Efunbo Dosekun, noted that the burden might be more in Nigeria, considering that preterms born in home-based care were not usually accounted for.
Efunbo added that innovations in neonatal service delivery were already being adopted in developed countries for the care of preterm babies.
She urged governments to work with specialists in the private sector so that the health system could be more responsive to the needs of babies born prematurely.
“Science has created devices, strategies that can help these babies live and it’s high time we imbibe it; because they are born too early does not mean they should die.
“We need to be able to rise to this challenge, other countries that are not so well endowed as Nigeria have been able to have better outcomes,” she said.
One of the participants, Ms Aramide Shokunbi, a marketer, said the Walk gave her hope for families with preterm babies because of the solutions available to them.
“I met a woman during the Walk who is a survivor, she was born prematurely though she said her twin died.
“I think it’s because of the time she was born. Now the world is evolving and there are equipments that can help preterm babies survive,” she told NAN.
Mrs Aisha Abari, a mother whose baby was born prematurely, said it wasn’t easy for her watching her baby passed through all the pain she did but expressed joy in being able to take her baby home.
According to her, she had a history of miscarriage, so abstained from sexual intercourse during pregnancy and had a cerclage – a surgical procedure to stitch the cervix to prevent miscarriage – but still had her baby at 29 weeks.
“During the pregnancy, I would go to the hospital for every little pain; I was very careful and so sure nothing would go wrong but at the end of the day, it still happened,” she said.
Abari advised parents with premature babies to ensure they go to a good hospital with specialists and keep praying.
According to UNICEF, every year, 15 million babies are born prematurely, more than one in 10 of all babies worldwide and one of the leading causes of death for children under the age of five.
About 75 per cent of fatalities are preventable if adequate care is given in terms of information and treatment.
Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) noted that babies born too early may face long-term health problems that affect the brain, lungs, hearing or vision.