Today, November 16, Liberia will join other nations around the world to commemorate World Prematurity Day, which also coincides with the celebration of Child Health Week (November 12-17, 2018), a release has said.
According to the release, World Prematurity Day, also known as “Born Too Soon,” is observed on November 17 each year; but this year’s celebration is being scheduled for today, November 16, instead, because November 17 falls on Saturday.
This year’s celebration is under the theme, “Working Together: Partnering with Families in the Care of Small and Sick Newborns.”
World Prematurity Day is a key moment to focus global attention on premature birth, which is a very serious health problem, and the leading cause of death in children under age five worldwide; complications from preterm birth which, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, account, for nearly one million deaths each year.
Babies born too early, the release said, may have more health issues than babies born on time, and may face long-term health problems that affect the brain, the lungs, hearing or vision.
Without a major push to reduce these deaths, according to the release, the world will not reach the Global Goal endorsed by 193 countries to end all preventable newborn and child deaths by 2030.
World Prematurity Day supports the values and goals of Every Newborn Action Plan, an initiative of the Every Woman, Every Child movement, which mobilizes global multi-sector support to save the lives and improve the well-being of mothers and their babies.
The World Prematurity Day or Born Too Soon aims to raise awareness of preterm birth or babies born too early and concerns of preterm babies as well as their families worldwide.
It calls attention to the special issues facing infants born prematurely and celebrates the development and growth of older babies and children who were born too soon.
The day also spreads information about how to help and support affected families.
According to the release, U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Maternal and Child Survival Program’s (MCSP), Restoration of Health Services and Human Resources for Health Projects, are collaborating with authorities at the Ministry of Health (MoH) and other health partners to promote the campaign of “caring for premature birth.”
The campaign, the release notes, places emphasis on “quality care before, between and during pregnancy for positive pregnancy experience.”
Other services and care include counseling on healthy diet and optimal nutrition, avoiding the use of tobacco, alcohol and substance use; monitoring fetal growth measurements, determining gestational age, and detecting multiple pregnancies and a minimum of eight contacts with health facility and community level professionals throughout pregnancy, in order to prevent, identify and manage other risk factors, including malaria and infections at all levels.
Additional services include access to contraceptives and increased empowerment of women to space their pregnancy, provision of antenatal steroid injections (given to pregnant women with preterm labor and eminent delivery under set criteria to strengthen the babies’ lungs), and Kangaroo mother care (the baby is carried by the mother with skin-to-skin contact) and nutrition, indicating only breast milk for tube or breast feeding as well as providing antibiotics to treat newborn infection as needed and postnatal care, an essential care for every mother and baby.
According to a UNFPA statistics, every year 15 million babies are born prematurely, more than one in ten of all babies the world over.
Medically, the term prematurity refers to the birth of a baby born less than 37 weeks gestational age. It is also known as preterm birth or premature birth.
In Liberia, midwives and doctors at five service provider facilities for midwifery schools are now recording successes in managing complicated maternal and newborn cases, including preterm labor and premature baby.
This initiative is credited to skills acquired from the Low Dose High Frequency process for provision of quality healthcare services implemented at the Phebe Hospital in Bong County, the Curran Lutheran, Lofa County, Martha Tubman, Grand Gedeh County, Redemption Hospital, and the Japanese Friendship Maternity Hospital, Montserrado.