The National Association of Nigeria Paediatric Nurses (NANPAN) has called for the establishment of special newborn units in all secondary health institutions in the country to curb the rate of preterm deaths.
Mrs Olubunmi Lawal, National President of NANPAN, made the appeal on Monday in Abuja.
Lawal fielded questions ahead of the association’s annual general conference and commemoration of International Day of Prematurity.
The association’s conference is scheduled for Nov. 13 to 17 in Owerri, while the International Day of Prematurity is billed for Nov. 17.
The conference theme is: “Innovative process of policy and politics to improving nursing/midwifery profession for a healthy nation”.
Lawal, who frowned at the rate of preterm death in the country, attributed it to lack of proper care and necessary equipment that could fast-track the resuscitation of children born before time in most hospitals.
The president identified preterm as the leading cause of neonatal death globally, urging governments to adopt measures that will curb the prevalence in the country and restore the lives of “our future leaders”.
Preterm birth is also known as premature birth is the birth of a baby at fewer than 37 weeks gestational age.
Lawal specifically noted that the association has adopted prematurity as the thrust of the conference focusing on five preterm steps campaign that would ensure the survival of babies born preterm.
She identified the establishment of newborn corners in all hospitals as one of the steps.
Other steps are sustainable policies, capacity building for nurses to ensure increase and well-skilled personnel in the field, promotion of Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) and science.
KMC, sometimes called skin-to-skin care, is a technique of newborn care where babies are kept skin-to-skin with a parent, typically their mother.
She, however, explained that if all maternities in the country have new bone corners as soon as such baby is delivered and unable to breathe the paediatric nurses could easily take the child to that corner, push some air into his noise to aid his breathing.
“Most secondary health facilities do not have newborn units as such they refer some of these babies to tertiary health facilities in the process some of the children will die and when the few ones eventually get to tertiary they are cold.
“If most of the secondary facilities have newborn unit equipped with incubators especially for the very preterm that has respiratory distress such baby can be kept there till he is stable then later place on mother to mother skin continuously.
“Establishing newborn corners in our localities will aid in resuscitating babies born preterm that cannot breath and after resuscitation you administer antibiotics, place such child on skin to skin which will assist in his survival before referral,” she noted.
The International Day of Prematurity is observed on Nov. 17 each year to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide.
According to the WHO, approximately 15 million babies are born preterm each year, accounting for about one in 10 of all babies born worldwide.