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Friday, July 19, 2024

Parirenyatwa pre-term pediatric unit to reduce neonatal morbidity and mortality

Story by Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor

PARIRENYATWA Group of Hospitals is set to open a modern and fully-equipped pediatric unit which caters for pre-term babies to reduce neo-natal morbidity and mortality.

The group is now moving from traditional neo-natal care to what is known as kangaroo mother care, which has proven to be more effective when it comes to pre term babies.

Kangaroo mother care involves placing a newborn on a parent or caregiver’s bare chest with a blanket covering the baby.

Fully equipped with ventilators for respiratory support, the Parirenyatwa Immediate Kangaroo Mother to Care Unit, which was set up to the tune of US$250 000, has improved health outcomes for pre-term babies.

“This kangaroo method is working really well for me as I also get to bond with my child and ever since I gave birth to her at 34 weeks, she has never had any infection and she is gaining weight. We hope to be out of hospital very soon,” said a mother in the unit.

“I gave birth to my twin babies the other one was weighing 1.340 kgs, while the other one was 1.240kgs. They were never put into an incubator and with the doctors and nurses assistance, I have been practicing what they call the kangaroo mother to child care and it is working perfectly fine,” said another.

Specialist Neonatologist, Dr Alex Stevenson says recent studies have demonstrated that the kangaroo mother care technique saves more lives than neonatal incubators while improving long-term health outcomes.

“The fundamental point that we are trying to make is that this is working and it’s a success and there is great potential to expand this in Zimbabwe and in Africa. The first advantage is that we are reducing neo natal mortality, although its early its looking like we are about to halve our neo mortal mortality and this weight band from something like 50% to something around 20 to 25%. So that is already a lot of lives saved in the few weeks that we have opened.

“There are benefits definitely in growth and in breast feeding there is also much less sepsis. Those incubators are hot houses for pathogenic bacteria whereas mum and all of us are actually covered in good bacteria and the breasts are filled with good bacteria that ccolonies the gut and stops bacteria getting in,” he said.

The benefits of kangaroo mother care (KMC) are not just physical but also emotional.

According to studies, it has been proven that by holding the baby skin-to-skin, it can stabilise the heart rates.

The method also supports physical and emotional development, eases breastfeeding and better sleep for the baby, among other benefits.

In 2022, the World Health Organisation changed its guidelines for all preterm and low birth-weight infants to receive prolonged KMC (8 to 24 hours per day), starting immediately after birth. This requires treating the mother and baby together as an inseparable unit.

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