BENIN CITY- The Institute of Child Health (ICH), University of Benin/University of Benin Teaching Hospital, on November 17, 2022, organized a hybrid lecture to mark the “World Prematurity Day,” a day set aside globally to raise awareness of premature birth and sometimes, the devastating impact it can have on families.
The theme for the event was, “A parent’s embrace: A powerful therapy.” It was organized at the ICH seminar room, Oba Akenzua Complex, UBTH and it drew the presence of Edo State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Obehi Akoria who was represented by Dr. George Osasuyi, medical personnel, nursing students, secondary school students and others who joined via zoom call conference.
The Chief Host and Vice Chancellor (VC) of UNIBEN Prof Lilian Salami represented by the Deputy VC Administration, Prof Catherine Ukpomwan thanked all invited guests to the Public Lecture. She emphasized the need for care of pre-term babies who are truly a blessing and not a curse to the family/parent.
She opined that the public lecture will give more insight on the approach of care of the pre-term babies to improve their quality of life. She also was hopeful that the recommendations from the lecture will be implemented for survival of pre-term babies.
The key lecture for the day, “Born too soon but to the tea triad compliant technology: Enabling a parent’s embrace,” delivered by Professor Charles Eregie (Professor of Child Health, ICH/UNIBEN and Consultant, Paediatrician and Neonatologist, Department of Child Health, UBTH) caught the attention of participants when the lecturer informed them of the ‘kangaroo mother care’ and the importance of a mother’s embrace on the development and growth of a prematurely born baby.
Speaking with members of the media, the lecturer informed that the lecture was part of the enlightenment and mobilization programme of the institute, an integral part of the ‘CHAMP’ initiative of ICH which makes use of ‘Child Health And Mobilization Programmes.’
He revealed he personally had to deploy the triple “A” problem solving method which makes use of, and details, ‘Assessment, Analysis and Action.’ This process, he stated, took a critical look at exposed and ventilated causes to find a solution to encountered problem.
This analysis he said helped to “focus on prematurity, premature birth, where are we, and why are we where we are, and what we need to do to be where we are supposed to be.”
Speaking on causes of prematurity, the lecturer said it had to do with some factors such as having a mother who is too young; being too old, if she has sickness or deals with diabetes or hypertension, has issues with the baby which could be internal or otherwise, she has weight issues such as being over weight or under weight, or carrying more than one baby at a given time which predisposes her to miscarriage if due care is not given to her.
Nonetheless, he stated that for babies born prematurely, wherein the “in-utero”(In a woman’s uterus) connection (between a foetus and its mother) has been disrupted, leading to an early birth, facilitating the use of an “Incubator,” interventions such as the “Kangaroo mother care” is of essence.
This intervention he informed, involved the mother carrying the baby in warm embrace, clutched close to her chest, for it to get used to her heartbeat, her body temperature/warmth as she goes on to bosom feed the baby to reignite bonding.
The Acting Director, ICH, UNIBEN/UBTH, Dr. Damian Nwaneri, said the occasion was to remember babies born too soon, before the thirty-seven weeks (37) gestational age. The occasion is designated with the colour purple. The colour is used to depict love, embrace, royalty, sovereignty, goodness and greatness, productivity. The colour is just to show that despite being born before their set time which makes them look small/tiny, with appropriate care, they grow into useful people in society.
He informed that since these children are born before their gestation time it could predispose them to have issues since their lungs are not fully matured hence they could have breathing or respiratory problems so they may need care along that line. They could be battling with sepsis, with some metabolic problems, their blood could break leading to anemia, jaundice or yellowness of the eyes or body.
Their brain, he reiterated, is also not fully mature, but despite all the troubles they have to battle through, he reassured that these children grow to achieve fullness in life if given necessary care. This is what the royalty in the colour purple, stands for.
Nwaneri chirped in that the kangaroo mother care was one aspect of the key but little technological advancement used to foster bonding between mother and child.
He sued not only for parental embrace but that of the whole siblings/family for complete therapeutic healing of the baby.