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Calls for improved child health, survival

Health & Science

The World Prematurity Day was nationally marked on Friday at Makueni’s mother and child unit, with the annual celebration used to give voice towards care for preterm babies, preventive measures, and ensuring improvement in children’s health and survival.

The November 17th celebrations were led by Dr Patrick Amoth, Acting Director General for Health, who represented Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha.

Speaking shortly after the national launch of guidelines on the management of Apnoea of prematurity, Dr Amoth said premature births were a major public health concern, with Kenya’s current neonatal mortality rate standing at 21 deaths per 1,000 with Makueni’s neonatal mortality rate being 26/1000 births.

“In the year 2020, data from the Ministry of Health indicates that 127,500 babies were born too soon accounting for about 12 per cent of all live births. Complications of prematurity account for a third of all neonatal deaths, highlighting the pressing need for our collective efforts,” said Amoth.

With the day’s theme being “Big impact. Immediate skin-to-skin and quality of care for every baby everywhere”, the Health ministry highlighted some measures they had taken to enhance newborn health outcomes.

“The Ministry of Health has developed and trained health workers on various guidelines for the management of newborns such as comprehensive newborn care guidelines along with the New-born Emergency Triage and Treatment Plus Training Curriculum, basic Paediatric Protocols, guidelines for the use of Chlorhexidine for cord care to reduce sepsis, and Kangaroo Mother Care Implementation,” he pointed out.

Rosemary Kihoto, Deputy Director of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, said they had negotiated for reduction of the price of Caffeine Citrate, used in the management of the Apnoea of Prematurity.

“Clinton Health Access Initiative (Chai) has supported and negotiated for over 70 per cent reduction in access price for caffeine citrate which was stocked at Sh1,500 but now it is can be accessed with only Sh400. Initially, this solution was a barrier due to the cost but now more facilities can afford to buy more quantities,” said Kihoto.

Chai donated 20,000 ampoules of caffeine citrate while a speciality pharma, Ethypharm, donated an additional 10,000 ampoules of caffeine citrate and essential equipment for use in newborn units, such as syringe pumps and pulse oximeters.

Makueni First Lady Anita Mutula who is the county’s maternal and child health champion called for the embracing of Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) saying such a practice is of low cost, effective, and has scientifically proven high impact intervention for the management of preterm and low birth weight babies.  

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