A t least 40 per cent of about 120 babies born or received at Kawempe Referral Hospital every day are premature births, according to the hospital administration.
This figure translates into at least 48 babies who are either born at the hospital or referred there from lower hospitals per day, bringing the number to 17, 520 premature babies at the hospital annually.
“On a daily basis, we attend to between 80 to 120 neonates in the unit. They come from neighbouring districts within the Kampala and lower health centres. However, 60 per cent of the number are born within the hospital,” Dr Loy Nabirye, the head of pediatric unit, said yesterday while receiving a donation of five incubators from Café Javas.
World Health Organisation indicates that Uganda is the 13th out of 184 countries for the highest number of babies born prematurely. The same research placed Uganda 11th for the number of deaths due to complications from preterm birth.
A report released by Save the Children, a non-governmental organisation in 2017, also indicates that 226,000 children born every year in Uganda are below the normal 37 weeks of gestation.
Medics said Preterm babies are born too soon before they are ready to manoeuvre through the environment outside. Most of their organs are not yet well developed which exposes them to a high risk of acquiring infections and difficulty in breathing, among others.
Dr Charles Olaro, the director of clinical services at the Ministry of Health, said the most common causes of preterm babies include illness, which cause high fever, malaria, HIV, urinary tract infections and multiple pregnancies, among others.
Dr Nabirye said the hospital is currently faced with shortage of incubators yet they are very vital for preterm babies. Currently, the hospital has 20 incubators.
“The ideal is one incubator one baby so right now, we have 20, they may seem many, but the babies are sharing,” Dr Nabirye said.
In a bid to support premature babies, Café Javas yesterday donated five incubators and diapers worth Shs2 million to Kawempe hospital.
“We held a run with our partners and we agreed that the proceeds from the run should be used to purchase these five incubators we had almost 1,000 runners and we managed to raise 18 million from the run and we topped up 40 million to buy the five incubators and diapers,” Mr Herbert Bashaasha, the marketing manager of Café Javas, said.
Ministry of Health said they are set to provide incubators to many health centres come next year so as to decongest the numbers at Kawempe hospital.
“By the end of next year all the facilities should be having incubators and then we shall under take training of staff..…if other facilities are functional, then they will be able to reduce the pressure on Kawempe,” Dr Olaro said.