Each day over 600 newborns die in Pakistan due to complications related to Birth Asphyxia, Prematurity and Sepsis says the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Every year,15 million babies in the world are born prematurely and nearly 1 million die due to related complications. This makes preterm birth one of the leading cause of child deaths under age 5.
While supporting the new initiatives taken by the Government of Pakistan to reduce preterm births and newborn mortality due to related complications, UNICEF calls for Working Together: Partnering with families in the care of small and sick newborns, which is also the theme, this year for the World Prematurity Day, being observed globally.
“Evidence-based cost-effective interventions such as Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) must be scaled up to reach the most marginalised communities, says Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan. Progress towards global goals for health and wellbeing is possible only if the number of preterm births and under-five deaths are reduced.”
UNICEF has supported the Government of Pakistan in establishing 38 Sick Newborn Care Units at public health facilities across the country. The Kangaroo Mothercare initiative is been introduced in these centres and awareness-raising activities are ongoing towards improving care for the newborn at home including timely and appropriate referrals for small and sick newborns.
Collaborated efforts have helped in the reduction of newborn mortality from 55 deaths per 1,000 live births to 42 deaths per 1,000 live births during the last five years. However, the number of newborn deaths is still unacceptably high and continued efforts are imperative to save precious lives.
With support from UNICEF, KMC will be initiated in the Pakistan Institute for Medical Services (PIMS) Hospital, this month. Training of health care providers from various provinces and areas at PIMS will help scale up the initiative over the next few years to reach the most in need in the neighbouring districts and areas.
Good hygiene care can help prevent multiple infections while early initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour can particularly help prevent deaths. UNICEF emphasises that the reduction in premature births and newborn deaths can be achieved by strengthening health policies and services with a focus on maternal nutrition and improving access and care for mothers and newborns.