World Prematurity Day Highlights Effective, Low-cost Care For Saving Preterm Babies In Pakistan

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

ISLAMABAD, 17 November 2012: With 748,100 preterm births recorded every year, Pakistan is observing the World Prematurity Day today to show its commitment to reduce preterm mortality.World Prematurity Day is part of a global effort to raise awareness of the deaths and disabilities due to prematurity, which is regarded as one of the leading causes of newborn deaths worldwide. Yet 75 per cent of these babies could be saved without high technology care through simple, proven and effective measures.

In Pakistan, according to official figures in 2010 some 423,000 children died before their fifth birthday due to mainly preventable causes. Newborn deaths make up over half of deaths recorded for children under 5 years of age. Out of these, two thirds die within the first 24 hours and therefore it is critical to address neonatal mortality.

“Precious lives are lost due to complications from preterm births every day. The numbers are significant. Neonatal mortality can be addressed through different strategies to deliver services and scaling-up integrated packages of intervention, reducing financial barriers as well as empowering communities. To address the leading causes of neonatal death and prematurity, proven and inexpensive prevention and treatment strategies exist including, providing regular checkups for pregnant mothers, ensuring that births take place in the hands of skilled health workers; helping babies breathe at birth; breastfeeding, keeping babies warm and ensuring hygienic umbilical cord care,” said Dan Rohrmann, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan.

In addition, there are three low-cost interventions that are especially effective for preterm babies. These include steroid injections, which are given to mothers in preterm labour, Kangaroo Mother Care – a technique used to keep the newborn warm, and good hygiene care and basic antibodies that help prevent and fight infections.