Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report

A new report entitled Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report came out two weeks ago and is the first of its kind. It provides global and regional estimates of preterm birth and illustrates how preterm birth is becoming an increasingly dire problem around the world, with highest rates occurring in sub-saharan Africa and South Asia. According to the report, after pneumonia, preterm birth is now the second leading cause of death for children under five, globally. Even for babies who survive preterm birth, there is a high chance that they will be permanently disabled, which adds an extra burden on to already struggling families.

The report is very informative regarding the problem, but it also suggests a plan of action and looks towards solutions, hopefully which, as the report outlines, will reduce infant deaths caused by preterm birth by 50% by the year 2025.

The goals to realize a solution include:

Prevention:

  • Preconception care package, including family planning (e.g. birth spacing and adolescent friendly services), education and nutrition especially for girls, and STI prevention
  • Antenatal care packages for all women, including screening for and management of STIs and targeted care of women at increased risk of preterm birth
  • Provide education to promote appropriate induction and cesarean 

Care of the preterm baby:

  • Essential and extra newborn care, especially feeding support
  • Neonatal resuscitation
  • Kangaroo Mother care
  • Management of premature babies with complications, especially respiratory distress syndrome and infection
  • Comprehensive neonatal intensive care, where capacity allows

It is wonderful to know that preterm birth is finally being acknowledged as a vitally important issue in need of address and action around the world, particularly in Africa. SAFE has already been working towards solutions of preterm birth, both immediate and longer term, particularly with regards to the antenatal care of preterm babies. As a result of the Light the Night solar panel project implementation, when emergency caesarean sections are required, many health centers around Uganda are now able to provide safer and more effective surgeries without fear of power loss. With this solar powered light, health workers can also provide better antenatal care to preterm infants and their mothers.

Furthermore, through educational sessions and community health fairs, SAFE empowers women’s and men’s groups to be more aware of important neonatal care issues such as good nutrition, sanitation, and immunizations.

SAFE’s motorcycle ambulance program also addresses the issue of surprise preterm labor and birth, by efficiently transporting pregnant mothers in labor to health centers, so that they may get the care, treatment, and maybe even surgery, they need.

Check out the full report by following this link:

http://www.who.int/pmnch/media/news/2012/preterm_birth_report/en/index.html