Uganda prioritises prematurity to reduce newborn deaths

Uganda prioritises prematurity to reduce newborn deaths

Prematurity issues have gone up the priority ladder in Uganda, according to the Assistant Commissioner for Child Health Dr Jesca Nsungwa Sabiiti.

“In the previous years we focussed so much on birth asphyxia, and now we are putting more efforts on prematurity and newborn sepsis,” Dr Nsungwa (left in image below) disclosed while speaking at the recent 2017 Preterm Birth Initiative annual symposium at the University of California San Francisco.


Jesca_UCSFPreterm birth complications account for one third of newborn deaths in the country where 226,000 babies are born prematurely. It is also estimated that 9800 children under five die to due to direct preterm complications.

Also in plan, according to Dr Nsungwa, is the development of guidelines for newborn care units that are expected to be set up across the country.

Currently, in most health facilities across Uganda, sick newborns are usually admitted on the same ward as bigger children, putting the neonates at risk.

Dr Nsungwa commended the data strengthening efforts by the Preterm Birth Initiative in six hospitals in Eastern Uganda, saying this would complement the planned routine data collection by Government. She however cautioned on the need to focus on actionable data and called for context specific innovations.

She explained: “Remember we work under a big problem of human resource and we must consider context as we promote innovations. Because anything that requires additional human resource we are so constrained.”

Working in selected sites in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, PTBi-East Africa aims to reduce morbidity and mortality from preterm birth by strengthening facility-based care from pregnancy through labour, delivery, and immediate postnatal period.

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