Photo: The Daily Star

Speakers at a roundtable call attention to the magnitude of the ‘preterm births’ issue and urge greater investment in essential newborn care.

According to 2016 estimates, Bangladesh had 438,800 preterm births and 23,600 deaths from preterm complications in a year and is ranked seventh among countries with the highest burden of preterm births. Speakers at a roundtable discussion held at the Daily Star center on 17th November 2016 stressed the need for greater investment on interventions around prevention and management of preterm births to cut down numbers of preterm births and deaths.

USAID’s MaMoni Health Systems Strengthening (MaMoni HSS) project and Saving Newborn Lives (SNL) program of Save the Children collaborated with the Daily Star to organize the roundtable to mark the World Prematurity Day, 2016.

A full-term pregnancy lasts between 37 and 42 weeks, and “prematurity” describes when a baby is born earlier than 37 weeks (gestational time). Prematurely born babies face many problems such as breathing difficulties, feeding difficulties, and low birth weight.

Premature birth accounts for over one million deaths worldwide and South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa together share 60% of those deaths. World Prematurity Day represents an opportunity to call attention to the heavy burden of death and disability, not to mention the pain and suffering that preterm birth causes. The day also offers a scope to talk about innovative solutions in terms of prevention, diagnosis and management of preterm birth.

Speakers in the roundtable discussed ways to contain preterm birth. They called for greater investment in programs that reduce risks of preterm birth associated with lifestyle, infections and malnutrition during pregnancy and lack of contraception. Others emphasized the need to expand the provision of Essential Newborn Care (ENC), Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) and advanced care for preterm babies. If the global goal of ending all preventable newborn and child deaths has to be attained by 2030 there is no choice but to work towards reducing preterm births.

Dr. Mohammed Shahidullah, President, Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council and Bangladesh Pediatrics Association, Shamim Jahan, Director, Health, Nutrition and HIV/AIDS, Save the Children, Joby George, COP, MaMoni HSS Project and Dr Sayed Rubayet, Director, SNL Program, Save the Children, spoke on different aspects of prevention and management of prematurity birth in the context of Bangladesh.

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