Tak­ing care of preterm

Bhutan Times - - Editorial - Chair­per­son : Phub Zam CEO: N.B. Ghal­ley Ed­i­tor : Sonam Tashi Mar­ket­ing Ex­ec­u­tive: Sonam Cho­den Se­nior Graphic De­signer: Kelden Wangdi Rev­enue & Billing: Pri­tam Kumar Cir­cu­la­tion & Sub­scrip­tion: Tandin Pen­jor P.O.box : 1365, Changzam­tog, Thimphu Tele­phone

The in­ter­na­tional pre­ma­tu­rity day was cel­e­brated on the 17th of Novem­ber 2014 for the first time in Bhutan to cre­ate aware­ness on the preterm birth. Preterm births are new­born ba­bies born be­fore 37 weeks of ges­ta­tion is a global prob­lem and is the lead­ing cause of death in the new­borns dur­ing the first month of life. It is also one of the ma­jor causes of child deaths un­der five years of age .

Mil­lions of new­born ba­bies are be­ing born each year, many in com­plex en­vi­ron­ments and yet, in many cases th­ese deaths are pre­ventable. Greater mo­men­tum must con­cen­trate around new­born sur­vival and health, whilst also de­liv­er­ing on Mil­len­nium De­vel­op­ment Goal 4 (MDG) for child sur­vival. With greater in­vest­ment and scal­ing up in new­born care, more pre­ma­ture ba­bies born to­day will live and thrive into adult­hood.

Last year, nearly 1,500 ba­bies were born pre­ma­ture in Bhutan. To re­spond to the in­creas­ing at­ten­tion to se­ri­ous and grow­ing prob­lem of preterm birth, the World Pre­ma­tu­rity Day themed, “Tiny Socks, Big Dreams” was cel­e­brated.

Ba­bies born pre­ma­turely are more at risk than all new­borns due to loss of heat, in­abil­ity to take enough nu­tri­tion, breath­ing dif­fi­cul­ties and in­fec­tions.

Last year, more than 50 per­cent deaths of the ba­bies within a month after birth known as neonatal deaths were preterm ba­bies. Com­pli­ca­tions of preterm birth are the lead­ing cause of neonatal deaths in the coun­try.

Many sur­vivors of preterm birth face a lifetime of dis­abil­ity like visual and hear­ing prob­lems.

Preterm ba­bies suf­fer through a host of com­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing longer hos­pi­tal­iza­tion, ill­nesses and mul­ti­ple life­long com­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing breath­ing prob­lems, cere­bral palsy, and in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties. Although lit­tle knowl­edge ex­ists on why pre­ma­tu­rity is so preva­lent, deal­ing with its oc­cur­rence is the most ef­fec­tive way to en­sure sur­vival.

Fur­ther due to this the health cen­ters in­cur ad­di­tional cost in tak­ing care of the new born preterm in terms of hu­man re­sources, medicines and equip­ments which could have been di­verted to other projects for the pub­lic ben­e­fit.

In or­der to ad­dress the prob­lem the gov­ern­ment has ap­proved 220 mil­lion for a 150 bed mother and child hos­pi­tal to be build un­der the JDWNRH com­plex. A sum of Nu. 20 mil­lion has al­ready been re­leased for the prepa­ra­tion of the de­tailed project re­port. It was fur­ther an­nounced the gov­ern­ment will do more for the child and mother health care. One of the moth­ers of 31 weeks preterm shared her ex­pe­ri­ence and thanked the gov­ern­ment for the flexi tim­ings. Giv­ing such huge im­por­tance prime min­is­ter in­vited him­self for the cel­e­brated and launched the Tshegho (Gar­ment of Life) an ini­tia­tive to knit caps for the new born ba­bies.

The more in­vest­ment we made in the pri­mary health care, the health­ier cit­i­zens we will have. As one of the ob­server pointed out that it is wise to invest in pri­mary health than on the ter­tiary heath care, which makes our younger gen­er­a­tion health­ier, hap­pier and stronger. It will prove wiser on the long run too.

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