Malawi commemorates prematurity day

By Vincent Khonje:

Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda has emphasized on the need for comprehensive care to premature babies as the country commemorated World Prematurity Day in Kasungu on Friday.

During the commemoration the minister also launched the revised Respectful Maternity Care (RMC) charter and New-born Essential Solutions and Technologies (NEST) programme.

RMC charter outlines the rights of the women and the new born babies which have to be accorded to them in health facilities and NEST is there to give specialized care for the small and sick newly born babies.

Kandodo Chiponda said as the country commemorates the world prematurity day the responsibility of taking care of that baby is not only for the mother.

Kandodo Chiponda said everyone around the mother has to support the premature child and the mother so that the child grows up with enough care.

The responsibility is for the whole family, starting from the father, the aunties, the uncles and even the grandmothers. A child does not belong to one person but to the whole village that is why there is need to take care of the child as one,

A premature baby will need special care and support and if this is given then the child grows up without any problem and grows up to be a reliable citizen, said Kandodo Chiponda.

On NESTs support to the health service, the minister said she was very grateful as the sector has many challenges that it is facing and need addressing.

“We are happy with NEST 360 and other partners who have assisted us with the nursery for premature babies which has baby cots and machinery. The programme has also helped in building capacity of the health workers on the new technologies of taking care of these babies,

It is very important because previously we had challenges of equipment to support babies whose lungs are not fully developed needing support when breathing plus they are fragile needing a very special environment, said the Minister.

Queen Dube who is head of pediatrics at Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Team Leader of NEST programme, said looking at the data in Malawi 20 percent of the mothers deliver early to premature babies or preterm babies in medical terms.

Dube said these babies struggle to breathe and are at much higher risk of infection as such cannot be healed at once but need comprehensive attention, special equipment and adequate staff which NEST is providing.

NEST is there to make sure that the technologies that are there to assist the premature babies are available. That which is there in advanced countries like the United Kingdom we must also be able to provide in Malawi, said Dube.

On the RMC, White Ribbon Alliance Executive Director Hestor Mkwinda Nyasulu said the launch of the charter brings excitement in that the minister has shown commitment that charter will be adhered to by health service providers.

Our women used to complain on the treatment in health facilities. So they made demands of what environment they really want when they go there. With the charter we know that women will be respected in as far as their rights are concerned, said Nyasulu.

Some of the rights incorporated in the charter include rights to be respected, privacy and confidentiality for the mother and for the child the rights include having a guardian, identity or nationality and adequate nutrition.

The minister of health was accompanied by minister of labour Ken Kandodo who is also

Member of Parliament (MP) for Kasungu Central Constituency who pledged to lobby for an increase to the health sector budget in parliament.

During the commemoration, the ministers presented gifts to the mothers and Protective Equipment to Kasungu District Hospital on behalf of the First Lady, Monica Chakwera, who initially was supposed to preside over the event but failed due to other equally important commitments.

Malawi News Agency -MANA

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