OSHAKATI - At least 150 premature babies out of more than 1,000 admitted at the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital yearly do not survive.
This year alone, the hospital has recorded 208 neonatal deaths with 395 neonatal deaths registered in the last two years. The revelations were made at the commemoration of the World Prematurity Day held at Oshakati Intermediate Hospital on Friday. The event was celebrated under the theme, “Supporting premature babies to grow and develop well”.
Dr Lona Mwenda, a paediatrician at the hospital, said the hospital admits at least 1,000 premature babies yearly with an average of 100 admissions monthly. So far, the hospital has admitted 996 premature babies.
According to the 2013 Demographic Health Survey, the overall neonatal mortality rate in Namibia is at 20 deaths per 1,000 live births and at least 13 deaths per every 1,000 live births at the Oshakati Hospital. Globally, the World Health Organisation estimates that 15 million babies are born prematurely every day, which translates to at least one in 10 babies. An estimated million premature babies die each year globally.
In an attempt to reduce the neonatal deaths, the Ministry of Health and Social Services has since 2017 trained 83 nurses and 193 Community Health Workers on Kangaroo Mother Care.
The Kangaroo Mother Care is designed to allow the mother and premature baby to bond in order to accelerate the growth of the baby.
UNICEF Chief Health Specialist in Namibia Jean Kaseya also announced that UNICEF has secured additional ventilators and other commodities from Japan for the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital to reduce the number of neonatal deaths.
Kaseya said the machines are critical in assisting babies who cannot breath on their own to breath.
The machinery is expected to be delivered at the hospital before end of this month.
Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku, said neonatal mortality at the Rundu State Hospital reduced at least by 27% after the number of ventilators at the hospital was increased. Haufiku, therefore, urged the community, stakeholders and government to dedicate efforts to prevent premature births by improving health awareness, encouraging early booking, good antenatal care and hospital centre deliveries accessible to all women of childbearing age and their partners. While stressing that prematurity remains a top killer in children under the age of five, Haufiku urged partners, the fathers of the children to support their pregnant partners and their children throughout life. The health minister also called for the strengthening of the public health care system in the communities.