Millions of children die globally due to premature births

Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Kalumbi Shangula said prematurity is one of the top killer of children under five years old worldwide.

Shangula said this on the occasion of the commemoration of World Premature Day at Oshakati in the Oshana region on Monday.

He noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) has it that an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm every year around the world.

This means 1 in 10 of all babies born, are born too soon. Sadly, one million premature babies die every year around the world according to WHO statistics, Shangula noted.

He went on to say it is a source of concern that the rates of preterm birth are rising in the majority of countries in the world.

According to him, prematurity is also a problem in Namibian communities.

He at the same time pointed out that the three top causes of newborn deaths in Namibia are Birth Asphyxia, prematurity and sepsis/infection.

Of these, more than 50 per cent are due to prematurity, stressed Shangula.

Many preterm babies who survive, he said, develop challenging congenital disabilities leading to poor quality of life, which include Cerebral Palsy, intellectual disability, blindness, deafness, and behavioral problems.

He further stated that individuals with such severe disabilities require huge resources to receive quality care.

This means financial resources, properly equipped facilities, adequate numbers of well-trained health workers, special medications and extra care from their family, Shangula cited.

In a speech read on her behalf, United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) representative to Namibia, Rachel Odede said maternal deaths, stillbirths and neonatal deaths are of majority concern to the government of Namibia.

She indicated that in Namibia 54 per cent of neonatal deaths are due to prematurity and low birth weight.

Protecting our babies means ensuring proper care as these deaths are preventable, Odede narrated.

Born too Soon: the right care, at the right time, in the right place is the theme of 2019 World Prematurity Day Commemoration.