Health specialists call for govt to invest heavily in newborns

18Nov 2020
Getrude Mbago
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Health specialists call for govt to invest heavily in newborns

​​​​​​​HEALTH specialists have suggested the need for the government to invest heavily in newborns by coming up with a special nationwide programmes to support premature babies.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam at the climax of the World Prematurity Day, Chief Executive Officer, AgaKhan Hospital, Sisawo Konteh said that it is high time now for the government, health stakeholders and donors to sit down and see how they can together come up with a strong system to support the babies.

“Preterm babies need close and extra care, we should now all together sit down and mobilise for engagement of donors so as to support the lives of our preterm newborns,” he said.

He said that ensuring the survival of preterm babies and their mothers requires sustained and significant financial and practical support.

“Prematurity is the leading cause of newborn deaths (babies in the first 4 weeks of life) and now the second-leading cause of death after pneumonia in children under the age of 5. Let us change the future for millions of babies born too soon, for their mothers and families, and indeed for entire countries.  Enabling infants to survive and thrive is an imperative for building the future we want,” he said.

Konteh cited comprehensive antenatal care, quality childbirth services and emergency obstetric care as among the major areas to invest.

Konteh added:“The world prematurity day 2020 theme is “Together for babies born too soon, caring for the future” is very appropriate in raising awareness to reduce mortality and morbidity among these babies, these babies need specialized facilities as well as providers. At the Aga Khan Hospital we are proud of our exceptionally good outcome for such babies.”

Dr Yasser Abdallah, neonatologist at Aga Khan Hospital said a significant proportion of babies born prematurely who survive continue to be at risk for long term complications including learning difficulties, deafness and blindness among others.

In Tanzania approximately 1.5million babies are born annually of whom 255,000 are born preterm.  Neonatal mortality rate in Tanzania stands at 21 per 1000live births (approximately 44,000 deaths) annually.

He noted that in Tanzania, complication of prematurity accounts for 24 per cent of all neonatal deaths which means 20 babies die daily from complications of prematurity.