Liberia Observes Prematurity Day

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Today, Friday, November 16, 2018 Liberia will join other nations around the world to commemorate World Prematurity Day, which also coincides with the celebration of Child Health Week (November 12-17, 2018).

World Prematurity Day also known as “Born Too Soon” is observed on 17 November each year but this year’s celebration is on November 16 instead because November 17 falls on Saturday.

The motto for 2018 is “Working together: Partnering with families in the care of small and sick newborns”.

World Prematurity Day is a key moment to focus global attention on premature birth, which is a very serious health problem and the leading cause of death in children under age 5 worldwide, complications from preterm birth, which according to the United Nations Children’s Fund account for nearly one million deaths each year.  Babies born too early may have more health issues than babies born on time, and may face long-term health problems that affect the brain, the lungs, hearing or vision.

Without a major push to reduce these deaths, the world will not reach the Global Goal, endorsed by 193 countries to end all preventable newborn and child deaths by 2030.

World Prematurity Day supports the values and goals of Every Newborn Action Plan, an initiative of the Every Woman Every Child movement, which mobilizes global multi-sectorial support to save the lives and improve the wellbeing of mothers and their babies.

The World Prematurity Day or Born Too Soon aims to raise awareness of preterm birth or babies born too early and concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide.

It calls attention to the special issues facing infants born prematurely, celebrates the development and growth of older babies and children who were born too soon.  The day also spreads information about how to help and support affected families.

A Press Release quotes the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Maternal and Child Survival Program’s (MCSP) Restoration of Health Services and Human Resources for Health Projects is collaborating with the Ministry of Health and other health partners to promote the campaign of “caring for premature birth” in Liberia.

The campaign, the release notes places emphasis on “quality care before, between and during pregnancy for positive pregnancy experience”.  Other services and care include; counseling on healthy diet and optimal nutrition, and avoiding of tobacco, alcohol and substance use; monitoring fetal growth measurements, determine gestational age and detect multiple pregnancies and a minimum of 8 contacts with health facility and community levels professionals throughout pregnancy to prevent, identify and manage other risk factor, such as malaria, infections at their levels.

The release furthered named additional services including; access to contraceptives and increased empowerment of women to space their pregnancy, and provision of antenatal steroid injections (given to pregnant women with preterm labor and eminent delivery under set criteria to strengthen the babies’ lungs.

Other services are Kangaroo mother care (the baby is carried by the mother with skin-to-skin contact as well as Nutrition indicating; only breast milk for tube or breast feeding as well as provide antibiotics to treat newborn infection as needed and Postnatal care and Essential Care for every mother and baby.

Every year, 15 million babies are born prematurely, more than one in ten of all babies around the world.

Medically, the term prematurity refers to the birth of a baby born less than 37 weeks gestational age.  It is also known as preterm birth or premature birth.  Diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking and obesity increase the risk of giving birth prematurely.

In Liberia, midwives and doctors at five hospitals serving at clinical sites for the Midwifery Schools are now recording successes in managing complicated maternal and newborn cases including preterm labor and the premature baby.

This initiative is credited to skills acquired from the Low Dose High Frequency (LDHF) process for provision of quality health care services implemented at the Phebe Hospital and four other hospitals (Curran Lutheran, Lofa, Martha Tubman, Grand Gedeh, Redemption and the Japanese Friendship Maternity Hospitals, Montserrado) by the USAID MCSP’s Human Resources for Health Project.

World Prematurity Day was first observed in Europe in 2008, but it has since evolved into a worldwide annual observance. Wear your purple on Friday and Saturday in support of care for preterm mothers and babies, the release concluded.

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