Namibia: World Prematurity Day

By Gloria Siseho

More than 500 people across the Oshana region gathered to celebrate the World Prematurity Day on 18 November in Namibia, a country where 54% of neonatal deaths are due to prematurity and low birth weight. The day was officiated by the Ministry of Health and Social Services under the global theme “Born too Soon: Providing the right care, at the right time, in the right place,” with technical and financial support from UNICEF Namibia.

Speaking at the event, the Honorable Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Kalumbi Shangula, highlighted the Government’s continued commitment to put systems in place to ensure that no child dies because of being born prematurely.

The government of Namibia, through the Ministry of Health and Social Services, has committed to reduce the maternal mortality ratio in the country to 200 per 100,000 livebirths, and the neonatal mortality ratio to 10 per 1,000 by 2022.

While the success in the reduction of both maternal and neonatal mortality requires sustained and significant planning, sound technical know-how and appropriate equipment, it remains important to establish proper monitoring to enable babies to survive.

To successfully implement much-needed emergency high-quality care to ensure the best start for the baby, we, as development partners, must support the Government by putting enough financial and technical resources together – in the long run curbing the complications that comes with preterm birth.

The WPD celebration in the country focused on the benefits of Kangaroo Mother Care and testimonials from mothers of premature babies who practiced and advocate for this high-impact, low-cost intervention to save preterm babies.

Mothers of premature babies were presented with kangaroo wrappers to keep their babies warm. The region also adopted a slogan of “knit one, warm one and save one.”

About the Author

Gloria Siseho is the Health Specialist for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health at UNICEF Namibia. She holds a Masters of Public Health Degree by the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, and currently pursues a PhD program at the same university, focusing on Maternal and Newborn Health quality of care improvement.

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