Mbale hospital seeks sh1.9b for neonatal unit

By Paul Watala

Dr. Kathy Burgoine, a neonatal lead, Mbale hospital on Sunday said the hospital is being suffocated with increased numbers of premature babies.

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HEALTH   NEONATAL

Mbale regional referral hospital in partnership with Born on the edge organization is seeking sh1.9b to construct a neonatal unit to handle the increasing cases of premature babies in the region.

Dr. Kathy Burgoine, a neonatal lead, Mbale hospital on Sunday said the hospital is being suffocated with increased numbers of premature babies.

Burgoine noted that the hospital lacks enough space to accommodate the specialised machines to handle the high numbers of premature babies born on a daily basis.

"On average, the hospital handles 250 neonatal cases per month. The number increased from 110 premature babies in 2014," she said adding: "The current facility is too small to handle the huge numbers that we receive"

Burgoine said since the neonatal unit was established in 2014, the mortality of death has reduced from four deaths to one out of 10 babies.

She lamented about the limited space, which accommodates only five breathing machines that handle only 10 babies at ago.

Burgoine also decried the lack of accommodation for mothers that take care of premature babies.

Some of the parents with neonatal cases narrated their ordeal while attending to their babies in the unit and appealed to the government to construct neonatal units at each health center IV for easy access to the services.

She added that Mbale hospital has only six neonatal trained personnel, a number she said was so low compared to the cases received at the facility.

Dr. Freddie Bwanga, director MBN clinical laboratories Mbale said approximately 15 million babies are born preterm each year globally, accounting for about one in 10 of all babies born worldwide.

"There is a need to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families, worldwide," Bwanga said.

He said premature babies face many challenges and their families face various psychosocial issues.

Among the health challenges premature babies face are anemia, breathing problems, infections or neonatal sepsis, particularly with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Others are intra-ventricular hemorrhage-a bleeding into the brain's ventricular system, jaundice- a yellowing of baby's skin and eyes, necrotizing enterocolitis- a medical condition where a portion of the bowel dies, retinopathy of prematurity- where the retina deep inside the eye is diseased.

Bwanga appealed to neonatologists and pediatricians to be at the forefront of treating and managing these premature babies.

He said they are aware that preterm birth cannot always be prevented, but mothers can help lower the chances of going into early labour by doing few things like seeing their doctors early and regularly attend prenatal care during pregnancy.

Bwanga added that expectant mothers should avoid smoking before pregnancy or as early as possible during pregnancy, drinking alcohol during pregnancy and using recreational drugs.