Uganda: Surge in Preterm Births Alarms Ugandan Medics

As the world approaches World Premature Day, Mulago Specialized Women and Neonatal Hospital grapples with an influx of preterm babies, attributing the surge to a concerning trend of expectant mothers neglecting antenatal care services.

Dr. Evelyn Nabunya, the Executive Director of Mulago Women, emphasized the critical role antenatal care plays in preventing premature births.

“A premature birth is more likely to happen when a mother has a health problem like diabetes or engages in harmful behaviors during her pregnancy, such as smoking or drinking alcohol.”

The statistics are alarming, with Mulago Specialized Women and Neonatal Hospital receiving between 100-120 preterm babies each month. These premature births further strain the country’s healthcare sector.

Dr. Jessica Nakibuuka, a Pediatrician, shed light on the varying degrees of preterm births, ranging from extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks) to very preterm (28 to less than 32 weeks) and moderate to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks).

However, the medical experts stressed that giving birth to a preterm baby is not the end of the road. Kangaroo care, a method involving close skin-to-skin contact between the baby and a parent, is proving to be a beneficial practice.

Dr. Jessica Nakibuuka highlighted the positive effects of kangaroo care.

“This technique not only regulates the baby’s body temperature but also promotes better breathing patterns, improved weight gain, and faster development.”

With the surge in premature births, health professionals are urging fathers to actively engage in kangaroo care. Dr. Evelyn Nabunya urged,.

“Fathers can play a crucial role in the well-being of preterm infants through this method, providing not only physical support but emotional bonding as well.”

As World Premature Day approaches, the call for increased awareness on the importance of antenatal care and active parental involvement in neonatal care becomes more urgent.

The healthcare community emphasizes the need for collective efforts to address this growing concern and ensure a healthier start for every newborn.


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