World Prematurity Day: Immediate Kangaroo Mother care saves lives

Dr Kwame Anim-Boamah, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the University of Ghana Medical Center (UGMC), has asked nurses and midwives to promote immediate Kangaroo Mother care (KMC) between preterm babies and their mothers right after birth.

That, he said, reduced risks of sepsis among small and preterm babies and increased their chances of survival.

Immediate KMC – which combines skin-to-skin contact with exclusive breastfeeding, or provision of breastmilk, is said to reduce suspected sepsis by 18 per cent, sepsis-related deaths by 36 per cent and overall deaths by 25 per cent.

Speaking at an event organised by the UGMC to mark the observation of World Prematurity Day (WPD) in Accra, the CEO said preterm birth was the leading cause of death in children under the age of five.

Each year, about 15 million babies worldwide are born preterm, that is about 1 in 10 children.

The WPD observation saw the graduation of about 14 preterm babies, who survived at the Hospital’s Neonatal and Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Dr Anim-Boamah also urged midwives and nurses to delay bathing babies, especially when they were preterm saying: ‘Ideally, babies are not supposed to be bathed on the first day they are delivered. You can wait and do that the next day.’

He said, ‘bathing babies right after birth may deprive them of the warmth they need to survive.’

‘As soon as a mother delivers, don’t run away with the baby, just leave the baby on the mother’s chest, that’s all,’ he said.

The CEO said starting kangaroo mother care as soon as the baby was born even before they are stabilised provided preterm and low-birthweight babies with the best protection against severe infections.

On World Prematurity Day, parents, health organisations, non-profit organisations, government bodies, societies, communities, companies, media and some individuals come together to discuss the concerns of preterm birth and how it can affect the baby and the family.

The day, observed on November 17, each year, helps in creating conversations regarding the im
provement of healthcare facilities to address health concerns of preterm birth.

It also helps in reinforcing preventive measures that can help the babies stay away from deadly infections and other diseases.

The theme for this year’s World Prematurity Day was – ‘Small actions, big impact: Immediate skin-to-skin care for every baby everywhere.’

Preterm is defined as babies born alive 37 weeks before pregnancy is complete by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Globally, prematurity is the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5 years. Inequalities in survival rates around the world are stark.

In 2020, an estimated 13.4 million babies were born preterm (before 37 completed weeks of gestation).

The WHO says preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under five years of age and responsible for approximately 900,000 deaths in 2019.

Three-quarters of these deaths could be prevented with current and cost-effective interventions.

In low-income settings, half of the
babies born at or below 32 weeks (2 months early) die due to a lack of feasible, cost-effective care such as warmth, breastfeeding support and basic care for infections and breathing difficulties.

Source: Ghana News Agency

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