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Malawi preterm birth highest in the world

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Global health leaders say there is more to be done to reduce preterm birth, citing Malawi as one of the countries with the highest cases in the world.

According to World Health Organisation, preterm birth is the birth of an infant before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Save the Children/Saving Newborn Lives Data and Communications Specialist, Mary Kinney, said Malawi tops the globe on preterm birth at 18.1 percent.

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Kinney said this during a media workshop in Mexico aimed at providing an intimate opportunity for journalists to engage directly with leaders in the field of maternal and newborn health.

“It is important to invest in maternal and child health, there is need to provide quality care to pregnant women and children, for example Malawi has the highest preterm birth in the world,” she said.

Director of Reproductive Health Unit in the Ministry of Health who is also attending the global meeting Fannie Kachale said Malawi is implementing high impact interventions to address the situation.

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According to Kachale, some of the interventions are prevention of pregnant women from malaria through distribution of SP (Fansidar) at least three times or more during pregnancy.

“Provision of insecticide treated mosquito nets where the pregnant women should sleep to prevent themselves from mosquito bites, provision of iron supplements (iron tablets and folic acid) to boost haemoglobin levels and prevent anaemia,” she said.

Others are encouraging young girls to stay in school to delay teenage pregnancy and early marriage so that they are mature enough by the time they get pregnant

She said another intervention is continuous positive airway pressure aimed at assisting premature babies to breathe.

“Continuous positive airway pressure is being implemented in all central hospitals and has been scaled up to several district hospitals; kangaroo mother care and oxygen therapy are all newborn interventions outlined in WHO recommendations on interventions to improve preterm birth outcomes,” she said.

President and Founder of ‘Era en Abril’ Foundation in Argentina Jessica Rudiaz said in her presentation that it was important for leaders to count every life even for the unborn children.

“It is painful that one expects for a baby for almost nine months and then you lose it. It is a painful experience for mothers,” said Rudiaz who shared her personal experience on child bearing.

Every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm and this number is rising, according to the World Health Organisation.

The Global Maternal Newborn health conference is taking place in Mexico under the theme, “reaching every mother and newborn with quality care” with over 1,000 participants from across the world.

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