PREMATURE BIRTHS

Government urged to partner with private sector to end preterm births in the country

Approximately one out of 10 babies are born preterm each year.

In Summary

•Lead obstetrician gynaecologist at Agha Khan Hospital Kisumu Dr. Juma Oduor expressed concern over rise in the number of preterm births which is caused by both spontaneous and medical conditions.

•Approximately one out of 10 babies are born preterm each year, with a good number of them succumbing while the rest are exposed to lifelong health challenges.

Parents hold their babies as the world mark Prematurity Day at Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu on November 17, 2021.
Parents hold their babies as the world mark Prematurity Day at Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu on November 17, 2021. 
Image: DANIEL OGENDO

There is need to develop necessary infrastructure to handle rising cases of preterm births in the country, Stakeholders say.

The government was urged to partner with private sector to see such infrastructure developed.

Approximately one out of 10 babies are born preterm each year, with a good number of them succumbing while the rest are exposed to lifelong health challenges.

Lead obstetrician gynaecologist at Agha Khan Hospital Kisumu Dr. Juma Oduor expressed concern over rise in the number of preterm births which is caused by both spontaneous and medical conditions.

Oduor noted that its management also poses a big challenge to those involved, given the millions of shillings it can cost depending on the condition of the baby.

Speaking at Agha Khan Hospital in Kisumu during the World Prematurity Day celebrations, he noted that infrastructure across major facilities in the country were not at par with the huge number of children born preterm.

Oduor called for partnership between the government and private sector to enhance access to quality medical care.

“Preterm birth remains the leading cause of prenatal mortality and morbidity in the country hence there is need for concerted efforts within the health sector to reverse the tide,” he added.

He further noted that Agha Khan Hospital has partnered with the government to train specialised doctors and medical personnel at the same time facilitate equipment sharing to help address the gaps.

Oduor stated that the facility has introduced a specialised clinics for expectant mothers every Monday, to identify any threats likely to affect pregnancy.

“This is a long term measure to curb the rising number of preterm births since the mothers are closely examined and quick decisions made to avert loss of life.”

Halima Malowa holds her twins aged 3-years-old Nouryan Zakaria (L) and Eman Zakaria during the World Prematurity Day at Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu on November 17, 2021.
Halima Malowa holds her twins aged 3-years-old Nouryan Zakaria (L) and Eman Zakaria during the World Prematurity Day at Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu on November 17, 2021. 
Image: DANIEL OGENDO

Oduor added that the hospital has invested in modern equipment to address major challenges affecting preterm babies.

Susan Osewe who is in charge of Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health at the facility noted that plans were underway to establish a neonatal Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to handle complex conditions resulting from preterm births.

A pediatrician at the facility Dr. Sarafina Ekeno, noted that 30 per cent of babies born preterm develop life long complications such as hearing impairment, cerebral palsy, sight and lung infections, and neurodevelopment issues as among the leading complications.

Rose Obae who delivered a preterm baby at 34  weeks said in most instances they are blamed by society for delivering prematurely.

“I was told that it was all my fault because I was not eating well yet I did everything as advised by the doctor,” she said.

Obae added that many women in her condition experience the same stigma.