The APEX Nurse at the Alimosho General Hospital, Igando, Mrs. Habibah Abiodun has called on mothers of premature babies to always seek medical care for their babies from health professionals.
Speaking at the World Prematurity Day (WPD) awareness programme organised to mark the occasion, with the theme “Born Too Soon, Providing The Right Care, At The Right Time, In The Right Place”, Mrs. Abiodun noted that the care needed by premature babies is beyond what could be handled by unskilled birth attendants or traditional care givers.
According to her, premature babies need to be cared for in neonatal units that are well equipped to meet the unique medical needs required to save the lives of the babies and “These babies need immediate care after birth to prevent complications, especially in the first 60 minutes after the baby is born”.
The APEX Nurse maintained that the statistics from the World Health Organisation, WHO, revealed that an estimated 15 million babies are born too soon every year with about one million deaths occurring as a result of preterm birth complications, saying such development calls for serious concern.
In her lecture titled ‘Preterm Care, Born Too Soon, Right Time, Right Care, Right Place’, Dr. Adeline Akinyoola, a Consultant Paediatrician at the facility said that preterm birth is the leading cause of mortality in children under five, accounting for one million deaths annually while three-quarters of these deaths are avoidable.
She urged healthcare workers to always maintain infection control measures in the wards and also educate mothers on the need to maintain hand hygiene when caring for their babies.
“Hand hygiene is extremely important in the care of preterm babies, mothers and caregivers must be taught the importance of washing their hands properly before carrying the babies because they are easily infected”, she explained.
Akinyoola reiterated that premature babies have a higher risk of bacterial sepsis, hence, basic hygiene practices such as hand washing and maintaining clean environment must be adhered to.
Prematurity, a term referring to babies born alive before 37 completed weeks of gestation is categorised into three: extremely preterm (28 weeks), very preterm (28 to 32 weeks) and late preterm (32 to 36 weeks).
The World Prematurity Day (WPD), celebrated internationally on November 17th, acknowledges the journeys of preterm infants and their families as well as raises awareness of the challenges faced by children born preterm and their families.