THE Tiny Beating Hearts Initiatives (TBHI), a Non-Governmental Organisation, on Tuesday, raised the alarm that no fewer than 802,600 premature babies are born in Nigeria annually.
The executive director of the organisation, Petra Onyegbule, said the figure was unacceptable, urging stakeholders to take drastic action over the development.
Onyegbule said this in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, while speaking with newsmen ahead of the “World Prematurity Day”, a day set aside to celebrate babies who survived prematurity coming up on November 17, 2018.
According to her, the number of premature babies born in Nigeria was too high as 89,000 of the preterm babies don’t survive, adding only concerted efforts from government and all stakeholders would help in reducing premature babies and related issues.
She said the factors that lead to neonatal deaths include lack of necessary environment, infrastructure and equipment, saying there was the need for stakeholders to work with government and relevant organisations to reduce the scourge of premature babies in the society.
She described the death of premature babies as needless and preventable only if hospitals are adequately equipped with equipment for neonatal services.
Speaking on the intervention of the initiative, she said the TBHI, which started operations in 2015 had assisted in saving the lives of 28 babies, saying between May and November this year, nine babies had been assisted to survive.
As part of activities marking this year’s world premature babies day, TBHI she explained would unveil an app and a shortcode that would help in educating and informing challenged parents on hospitals with neonatal services for premature babies, their contact addresses, pointing out that this would help save time and resources of challenged persons.
Similarly, TBHI she added would as part of activities leading to November 17, light up some landmark areas with purple colours, including the European cenotaph amongst others, to be followed by a sensitization and awareness walk on Saturday morning, and a seminar, with the theme: Working with families in the care of small and sick babies.
She said the seminar is aimed at educating the public on how medical personnel, government and the general public can help families in caring for preemies and babies born at term but with low birth weight.
Onyegbule appealed to Nigerians to join hands in reducing the scourge of premature babies, pointing out that it is a serious problem that requires that all hands must be on deck and should not be left in the hands of government alone.