Taking care of preterm
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.