Premature babies deaths: FG, stakeholders recommend ‘Kangaroo’ mother care


prof-onyebuchi-chukwuIn a bid to reduce the death of premature babies, the Federal Government and other stakeholders on Friday urged mothers to adopt the “Kangaroo Mother Care’’ as strategic intervention.

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The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, at a stakeholders meeting to commemorate the World Prematurity Day in Abuja, said the “Kangaroo Mother Care’’ strategy would save the lives of more babies.

The World Prematurity Day is celebrated globally on Nov.17 every year, to raise awareness about prematurity and to highlight the burden of pre-term births.

The“Kangaroo Mother Care’’ method is a technique where the infant is held skin-to-skin on the mother’s chest, which keeps the baby warm and facilitates breastfeeding.

Chukwu represented by Dr Wapada Balami, Director, Reproductive Health Department of the ministry, said that keeping pre-term babies warm was important because tiny bodies were vulnerable to illness, infections and death.

He said premature deaths accounted for a high number of infant mortality in Nigeria.

The minister said if the issue of premature deaths was addressed, Nigeria would meet MDG four, which deals with reducing child mortality.

“Government has provided life saving commodities in facilities to ensure the survivor of premature babies and their mothers.

“Family planning is a key factor in preventing premature deaths, to that regard, government has provided free family planning commodities for mothers at various health facilities.

“ Government has also intensified efforts in increasing skilled manpower at health facilities that will be able to take care of premature babies,’’ he said.

In a document made available at the meeting by Save the Children International, an NGO, infants born pre-term represented the largest child patient group in the world.

According to the document, in Nigeria, pre-term birth rate is 12 per 100 live births and prematurity accounts for 33 per cent of neo-natal deaths.

Dr Susan Grant, Country Director of the NGO, pledged the agency’s willingness to support government to save the lives of premature babies in the country.

She encouraged mothers of premature babies to adopt the “Kangaroo Mother Care’’ method, saying it would go a long way in addressing mortality among premature babies.

The minister advised pregnant women to endeavour to attend antenatal clinics, stressing that during ante-natal clinics mothers would be advised on what to do to avoid pre-term births.

Dr Abimbola Williams, Health Manager, Maternal and Newborn, Save the Children, said increased intervention could save up to 90 per cent premature deaths in Nigeria.

She commended the Federal Government for adopting the UN life saving commodities including corticosteroids, a medication,  for mothers who are going into premature labour.

“The ante-natal corticosteroids if given to a woman going into pre-term labour will rapidly assist the baby who is coming out to have the lungs well developed for survival.

“Kangaroo Mother Care is key to the survival of  premature babies, it encourages keeping the baby warm, breast feeding and bonding with the mother and helps prevent infection,’’ she said.

Dr Andrew Mbewe, a medical officer, WHO, said premature babies required skilled health workers to take care of them.

He pledged the organisation’s willingness to support the ministry of health with logistics to increase interventions to reduce the deaths.

The WHO defines a pre-term birth as babies born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy is completed.

There are sub-categories of pre-term birth, based on gestational age, extremely pre-term, 28 weeks, very pre-term, 28 to 32 weeks and moderate to late preterm-, 32 to 37 weeks.(NAN)

Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola is aNaija247news' Southwest editor. He's based in Lagos and writes on the Yoruba Nation political issues, news and investigative reports

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