By Lorraine Anyango
The commemoration of World Prematurity Day in Kisumu was a galore of both learning and entertainment.
It was an opportunity to give the world’s most vulnerable babies the attention they deserve and help give them the best possible start in life.
The theme for this year’s celebration was ‘Small Actions, Big Impact, Skin to Skin Care for Every Baby Everywhere.’
………And when the chief guest took to the podium “Men can do Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) better.” The concept was echoed with great admiration and appreciation for fathers who shared their experiences of having participated in the initial care of their pre-term babies.
Through the pre-term journey, there is a need to emphasize families’ involvement in routine care, the fathers should also be involved, learning what to do in the hospital allows them to practice at home. The father only follows the routine after their inclusion hence giving them confidence.
Dr Lusi Ojwang, Chief Officer of Medical Services, Public Health and Sanitation called all nurses and doctors to be wise with their choice of words as they create a big impact in a patient’s life.
“The health care personnel who take care of mothers with pre-term babies remain engraved in the minds of the clients for a very long time.” He said while emphasizing the importance of primary healthcare. “It all begins with the mother,” he said.
He urged the Community Health Promoters to find ways to integrate primary health and ensure that men join hands in practicing KMC care as they can do better.
The celebration was marked at the Kisumu County Referral Hospital (KCRH) and was graced by pre-term moms and their children, the Director of Medical Services Dr. Don Sunday Ogolla, County health coordinators, pediatricians, nurses, community health Promoters, partners children from Penda Girls.
The Pre-term moms took the opportunity not only to share their stories of very small babies weighing as low as 600 grams, but they extend gratitude to the pediatricians and nurses who took care of them as they spent not less than two months in the hospital.
Mr. Pius Bayas, father to one of the pre-term babies thanked the nursing team at KCRH for the collaborated effort that brought his child home alive. The baby was born with 920 grams when all hope was lost while he was on the verge of throwing in the towel. “With words of encouragement and pieces of advice from the nurses, we happily carried our baby home,” He said.
The Penda community joined in solidarity with the support of babies’ primary health. They sang their hearts out rebuking the practice of drunkenness as it should not be a factor hindering the growth of pre-term babies.
Amidst the dancing and singing, the participants were awakened to the prematurity scenario in the world as it’s the leading cause of death in under five mortalities
Dr. Ogolla advised mothers to fully attend the eight ANC (Antenatal Care) cycles to monitor both mother and child healthcare during the gestation period. He said this may help detect Preeclampsia, as a common cause of preterm births earlier hence managing it.
Preeclampsia is one of the high blood pressure (hypertension) disorders that can occur during pregnancy. Dr. Ogolla noted that some childbearing mothers only find out this during delivery.
Worldwide, 15 million babies are born as pre- terms. This means in every 10 children one will be premature. In the last five years, not much has changed as regards the mortality rate that is attributed to prematurity which was 22% in every 1000 births, now it stands at 21% according to KDHS.
This means we still have work to do. In Kisumu, 90% of the neonates admitted are pre-term babies. Sharon, a Pediatrician from KCRH said that we still lose pre-mature babies.
The birth of a preterm baby ushers in a period of significant stress, and for the parents, it’s emotionally and financially draining as well. Pre-mates experience prolonged hospital stays even two months, where they are separated from their families, as such their first major milestone is a discharge from the hospital
“As much as it is a celebration for these babies, it also marks the beginning of a long journey for them and their families, while some may live a normal life others suffer from chronic conditions such as hearing and sight problems, delayed development, and cerebral palsy,” she said.
“We need to pull together our small actions, to create a big impact, we want every pre-term baby everywhere to be placed skin to skin, it’s affordable and available and we only need to do it and we will have prevented death,” she added.
Kangaroo mother care enhances bonding and thermal regulation, when they have attained weight, they will be taught how to breastfeed.
The event was supported by USAID Boresha Jamii, Nip Nap , KCRH and the county Goverment of Kisumu.The celebration culminated with a cake-cutting activity.