About 15 million babies are born prematurely worldwide annually and Nigeria is the third largest contributor to this, an official has said.
The Minister of Health, Isaac Oyewole, disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja at an event held to mark the World Prematurity and Pneumonia Day.
Mr. Adewole, a professor of medicine, said Nigeria has an estimated 871,000 babies born preterm every year.
He stated that “one of every three newborn deaths is attributable to complications of prematurity, while those who survive may face lifelong disabilities, including learning, visual and hearing problems and their quality of life is greatly affected.
“Babies born too soon have a higher risk of death that is 13 times higher than babies born at term. Thus, one of every three newborn deaths is attributable to complications of prematurity. Those who survive may face lifelong disabilities, including learning, visual and hearing problems and their quality of life is greatly affected”.
He, however, added that “the ministry has recorded some milestones in its efforts to reduce preventable deaths of newborns and children since the last commemoration of the Day.”
“To tackle prematurity issues,” Mr. Adewole said, “it is important to promote essential care during childbirth and in the postnatal period for every mother and baby, including antenatal corticosteroids (given to pregnant women at risk of preterm labour to strengthen the babies’ lungs), kangaroo mother care which provide thermal care via skin-to-skin contact for the baby and support breastfeeding (particularly, exclusively, for the first six months of life), and antibiotics to treat newborn infections.”