World Prematurity Day 2017

Every year in Kenya, approximately 100,000 babies are born too soon. Caring for them requires well trained staff and specialized equipment like incubators and respirators. In many health facilities in Kenya, staff lack the specialized skills to handle small babies and to operate newborn equipment.

World Prematurity Day is observed on 17 November each year to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide. Kenya is ranked no. 15 globally with the highest number of premature births out of 188 countries.

Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is a proven innovation that is addressing this problem. KMC is continuous, prolonged, early skin to skin contact between a mother and her newborn for up to 24 hours per day, and is the recommended care for stable preterm and low birth weight (LBW) babies who do not require incubator care. Mothers initiate KMC at the health facility and require a suitable space to stay while caring for their babies, and support from other women and health workers.

Since its inception in 2016, KMC has been a low cost high impact intervention that saves the lives of preterm and low birth weight babies.

So far, a total of 21 out of 47 counties are implementing KMC in some of their facilities with the help of 20 national KMC master trainers. What’s more, 119 health workers have been taught to train fellow health workers on KMC, which has resulted in a total 663 health workers effectively trained at facility level to implement it.

This means that there will be a notable decrease in neonatal mortality thanks to the project, but more work is needed to meet the vision 2030 target of 12/1000, which is significantly low when compared to 2003’s neonatal mortality rate of 35/1000.

Check out the infographics here to learn more about the issue and the projects impact.