MINISTER of Health and Social Services Kalumbi Shangula, said that premature births remain one of the top causes of death of children under the age of five worldwide.
Shangula, who was speaking at the commemoration of World Prematurity Day at Oshakati said in Namibia, prematurity is a problem in many communities.
Shangula noted that 50 percent of babies are born prematurity in Namibia, with the rates rising in many countries. He indicated that premature birth is a serious challenge.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm every year around the world whereby 1 in 10 of all such babies dies every year.
“It is important to ensure that government and co-operation partners pool support and resources towards providing optimal care for premature babies so that they will be able to survive, thrive and grow into healthy, productive citizens,” said Shangula.
Shangula narrated that the health ministry is committed and is working hard to ensure that the health facilities have in place the guidelines, equipment, supplies and infrastructure needed to care for preterm babies and indeed for other public health care services.
In a speech read on her behalf, United Nation Children Funds (UNICEF) country representative Rachel Odede, said that 54 percent of neonatal deaths in Namibia is due to prematurity and low-birth weight.
“The goal of MoHSS is to reduce the maternal mortality ratio to 200 per 100 000 live births and to reduce the neonatal mortality ratio to 10 per 1 000 by 2022,” said Odede.
She said that protecting the babies means ensuring proper care as these deaths are preventable.
“For Namibia, delivering inpatient care for premature babies is often a challenge because of limited equipment to ensure the survival of these babies and in some cases limited human capacity to deal with the demand.”
The day is commemorated under the theme “Born too soon: the right care, at the right time, in the right place.”