To commemorate this year’s World Prematurity Day, globally marked on 17th November yearly, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) has launched four guidelines and a training manual for newborn health.
The documents launched include: The do Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) Operational Guidelines, National Guideline for Basic Newborn Care (NGBNC), National Guidelines for Comprehensive Newborn Care (NGCNC) and National Guidelines for Comprehensive Newborn Care (NGCNC) Training Manual.
While launching the guidelines at the FMoH on 25 November 2021, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire stated that the guidelines will set additional standards for newborn care in Nigeria. He therefore called for careful implementation of the content of the guidelines at the subnational level and Primary Health Care centers which will help in reducing the current high Neonatal Mortality recorded in Nigeria.
The Minister added that, “It has been established that diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking and obesity increase the risk of giving birth prematurely. Therefore, pregnant women are encouraged to access early antenatal care, as this will enhance early detection of existing medical conditions and also provide the platform for counselling against alcohol and smoking in pregnancy in addition to emotional and psychological support to the pregnant woman and her family.”
World Prematurity Day is commemorated every November 17 with the aim of raising awareness for the challenges of preterm birth and emphasizing the risks and consequences faced by preterm babies and their families worldwide.
Globally, preterm birth is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five; each year, about 15 million babies worldwide are born prematurely, that is about 1 in 10 children. In Nigeria, it is estimated that preterm contributes 9% of neonatal deaths. The theme for the 2021 commemoration – Zero Separation, Act Now! Keep parents and babies born too soon together – addresses the immediate needs of the newborns ‘born too soon’. It places premium on Zero separation of babies born too soon from their parent, which is to enhance the chances of prematurely born newborns to survive and thrive.
In his goodwill message at the event, the World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, congratulated the FMoH for the various documents being launched. He stated that the documents have identified cost-effective interventions to save newborns which include immediate skin-to-skin contact and early initiation of breastfeeding for newborns. “Skin-to-skin contact, as early after birth and as continuously as possible, has positive and protective effects, such as the regulation of cardiac and respiratory rates, the prevention of sepsis (severe infection), hypothermia (low body temperature) and hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), as well as reduced hospital readmission. We believe that implementation of these documents at subnational levels will improve our neonatal health outcomes” he says.
He further reaffirmed WHO’s commitment to continue to work with the Government of Nigeria at all levels and particularly in the areas of WHO’s comparative advantages committing that “on this occasion, WHO joins the Federal Ministry of Health to affirm that newborn care and neonatal mortality reduction are among the important goals, not only for the health sector but also for Nigeria as a country towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. WHO reaffirms our Triple Billion Goal as our commitment to promoting health and wellbeing, keeping the world safe and serving the vulnerable, to achieve Universal Health Coverage and ensure that No One is left behind, as our vision of a world in which all people attain the highest possible standard of health and well-being has not changed.”