World Prematurity Day: Kangaroo Mother Care a Game Changer
One in every ten babies born around the world is born prematurely, amounting to more than 15 million born prematurely annually. 17th November is World Premature Baby day aimed at creating awareness on premature birth. Many of such babies may go on to lead a healthy lives, however it is estimated that as many as one million babies die every year as a result of early birth.
At Pumwani Hospital in Nairobi celebrations were held to mark this day. Assistant Director at the hospital Dr. Catherine Mutinda has encouraged Kenyans to embrace the Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) as a means of helping babies born before the start of 37th week of pregnancy who weigh below 2.kg. KMC is a skin to skin bonding method between the mother and the baby to provide warmth. Mutinda advocates for 18 hours or more if it is continuous, however if it is intermittent as little as 1 hour where one alternates between kangaroo and at the ventilator.
KMC method is a low cost intervention that is being encouraged as compared to incubators. Health benefits of KMC include the baby enjoys the process , grows faster, feeding the baby become easier and the mother gains confidence.
Rachel Wanjiru is among 500 mothers at Pumwani Hospital who gave birth to preterm babies this year and has used KMC to enable her baby thrive. She stated that earlier on her baby had been placed in an incubator where he got infected with jaundice after being placed next to another baby that had been infected, after which she was encouraged to use KMC and can attest to the benefits as one week later they were out of the hospital.
KMC is a method that has also been embraced by men to support their premature babies and wives as well. Austin Were is one such man who has embraced KMC and did help his wife in the kangaroo bonding with baby for two weeks and encourages other men to be part and parcel in the well being of their children
Kenya joins the world in marking Prematurity Day aimed at creating awareness on the leading cause of death among children below 5 years. This year’s theme is “Let them thrive!” as Kenya and 192 countries strive to reach the global goal in ending preventable newborn and child deaths by 2030.