UNICEF: One out of three babies are born prematurely, annually

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The Deputy Minister of Health Dr Mustpah, and the UNICEF Deputy Rep Indreiten

By Ibrahim Kabba Turay

The Deputy Representative of UNICEF in Sierra Leone, Liv Elin Indreiten, has stated that one out of three babies are born prematurely, annually in Sierra Leone and globally, premature birth remains the leading causes of death of children under the age of five.

She made the above statement at the commemoration of the World Prematurity Day,17th November, 2023, at Sierra Bay Hotel, Aberdeen in Freetown, with the Theme: “Small action big impact: immediate Skin-to Skin care for every baby everywhere.”

She said the World Prematurity Day was a day dedicated to raising awareness about the challenges faced by infants born too soon and too small, adding that their commitment is to addressing the risks and consequences that small infants and their families confront in Sierra Leone.

“Approximately, fifteen million babies are born prematurely each year, equating to one in 10 children and over 100,000 die globally as a result of premature born,” she said.

She further stated that UNICEF has been working with the Ministry of Health and their partners to scale up newborn lifesaving interventions across the country over the past six years, adding that sixteen special care baby units have been set up in fourteen districts.

She continued that the impact of those efforts has been evident and  that more than 40,000 small and sick babies have been admitted to those units since.

 She said it was encouraging to see the steady increase in the survival rate of babies from 78 percent in 2017 to 88 percent in 2023.

The Deputy Minister 2, at the Ministry of Health, Jelicatu Mustapha, in her words, advised mothers that are faced with the challenge of premature born babies to be strong for their babies.

She said the Ministry of Health will continue to raise the awareness and that they were taking the issue of premature babies seriously, that was why they have established several unite across the country.

She said they acknowledged and appreciated the immense contribution and collaboration of multiple donor and partners for their tremendous effort they have been doing in supporting premature babies in Sierra Leone.

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