Minister of Health Sylvia T. Masebo has said the Government through the Ministry of Health is committed to reducing maternal and child deaths and put an end to avoidable deaths of the newborns.
Commenting on the 2022 World Prematurity Day, Ms. Masebo said on this day all are called to reflect on the concerns and health challenges that babies born too early or premature babies face.
Every year on 17th November, the world comes together to celebrate World Prematurity Day.
She said the New Dawn Government, under the leadership of President Hakainde Hichilema, is committed to strengthening the healthcare system with emphasis on access to quality healthcare, as Zambia strives to attain Universal Health Coverage, and this applies to premature babies as well.
“On this day, we are all called to reflect on the concerns and health challenges that babies born too early or premature babies face. We are also called to empathise and stand with their parents and care-givers. It is a day when we are called to come together as stakeholders, to strategise on how we will actualize the proven solutions that make a big difference and contribute greatly to the wellbeing of the little ones and their families. Babies born prematurely, if taken care of optimally, grow up into completely healthy and productive individuals. The New Dawn Government, under the leadership of Mr Hakainde Hichilema, President of the Republic of Zambia, is committed to strengthening the healthcare system with emphasis on access to quality healthcare, as we strive to attain Universal Health Coverage, and this applies to premature babies as well,” Ms. Masebo said.
“One testimony is the recent deployment of more than 11,000 healthcare workers, not to mention the increase in the budget to the health sector since coming into power in 2021.Government through the Ministry of Health, is committed to reducing maternal and child deaths and put an end to avoidable deaths of the newborns.This is feasible if we improve the general health status of our mothers before conception, improving our antenatal care, enhance management of labour and the postnatal period, and other health services. The babies born too soon are vulnerable and require more intensive care to reduce adverse health outcomes. This year’s theme particularly reminds us of the need to keep babies together with their mothers, even as we take care of them, as unnecessary separations do more harm than good,” Ms. Masebo said.
She said the current status of deaths of babies within the first 28 days of life, at 27 per 1,000 live births, is unacceptably high.
“One high impact, evidence-based, low cost intervention that increases the chances of survival is the Kangaroo Mother Care, a method where the premature baby is nursed, as much as possible, on the chest of the mother so that there is skin-to-skin contact. This keeps the baby warm, improves bonding between the mother and baby, and promotes breastfeeding. It is a powerful method that can be practiced by both parents, and it empowers them to lovingly cuddle and communicate with the baby. Scientifically, it is proven to improve the baby’s ability to fight infections, ability to utilize the food given to it, as well as enhance brain development. The current status of deaths of babies within the first 28 days of life, at 27 per 1,000 live births, is unacceptably high. Thirty percent (30%) of all these deaths during this period are attributable to prematurity,” Ms. Masebo said.
“These statistics are far beyond the global target of newborn deaths in the first 28 days of life pegged at 12 per 1,000 by 2030. This, therefore, calls for concerted efforts by government and other stakeholders for us to begin to reverse the current trajectory. I want to encourage those nursing premature babies to embark on embracing and cuddling them, care for them and ensure zero separation for maximum benefits, not only in the hospital setting, but also at home upon discharge. To those who have lost their newborns who were born too soon, we mourn with you.I wish to urge all those who were born prematurely and are now grown, and all those who have cared for premature babies, to be our ambassadors and encourage others in the community,” she said.
Ms. Masebo called on people to join the fight against avoidable deaths, and make a deliberate effort on this World Prematurity Day, to seek out someone caring for a premature baby and show them love and support.
“To all expectant mothers, I encourage you to go for antenatal services at your nearest health facility as soon as you discover you are pregnant. This will enhance chances of healthier outcomes for you and your baby. To the healthcare workers who look after these precious little ones and their mothers, I wish to urge you to support every parent’s right to have access to their babies and put in your best to save the little ones. In conclusion, I wish to take this opportunity to extend my sincere gratitude to all our partners who continue to work with the Ministry of Health and support us as we endeavor to provide quality health care for all; We, therefore, call upon all our people to join the fight against avoidable deaths, and make a deliberate effort on this World Prematurity Day, to seek out someone caring for a premature baby and show them love and support,” Ms. Masebo said.