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10 counties with highest number of preterm births

by kenya-tribune
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Each year, 193,000 babies are born prematurely in Kenya, representing a 12pc preterm birth rate.

According to the Ministry of Health, Nairobi ranks among the top10 counties with the highest number of preterm births, followed by Nakuru, Kiambu, Kilifi, Bungoma and Kajiado counties.

Others are Kisumu, Mombasa, Trans Nzoia, Kakamega and Nyeri. They contribute to 52pc of the total premature babies.

The statistics were released Thursday by health CS Susan Nakumincha Wafula at Pumwani hospital where she led Kenya in marking World Prematurity Day.

Courtesy-MOH

The event is part of ongoing efforts to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families.

With about 13,300 children under five dying due to direct preterm complications, the CS outlined various interventions undertaken by the government to reverse the trend.

She, however, decried existing inequalities in survival rates around the world, particularly in low-income settings where half of the babies born at or below 32 weeks die due to lack of feasible, cost-effective care.

“Essential newborn care that is; drying, warming, immediate exclusive breastfeeding and cord care makes the difference between life and death for small babies” she stated as she rooted for high-impact interventions such as Kangaroo Mother Care for management of preterm and low birth weight babies.

“Use of corticosteroids in management of premature labour and use of Chlorhexidine Digluconate 7.1pc gel for prevention of neonatal sepsis greatly help in saving the small babies” she said.

Some of the Interventions undertaken by MoH since 2014 include the development of key policies and guidelines to address newborn care interventions through the development of comprehensive newborn care protocol for use at tertiary-level facilities in the management of sick newborn babies.

This also includes training guidelines on early essential newborn care and capacity building of the healthcare workers in scaling up newborn care interventions.

“We have trained health care workers across the country on newborn care interventions and management of sick newborn babies” she disclosed.

The health ministry has also been monitoring newborn care indicators across the country through the Kenya Health Information Systems (KHIS) and availing supplies and necessary equipment.

“ Through support of partners, the ministry has been able to supply equipment for use in the newborn unit like warmers, incubators and CPAP machines across the country’ she added.

Global burden

Each year, an estimated 15 million babies are born too early across the globe translating to about one in 10 babies while about one million children die every year resulting from complications of preterm birth.

“Approximately 1 million children die each year due to complications of preterm birth. Many surviving babies face a lifetime of disability, including learning disabilities and visual and hearing problems” says World Health Organisation which will be launching new recommendations that can improve the care of preterm or low birth weight babies.

“There are 25 recommendations which substantially expand the ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ for improving the survival, health and well-being of  preterm and low birth weight babies. This includes kangaroo mother care and involving families in the care of their babies right from the time of birth” it said.

This year’s day will marked under the theme, “Parent’s embrace: a powerful therapy. Enable skin–to–skin contact from the moment of birth.”

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