World Prematurity Day

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To mark World Prematurity Day 2017, the Honourable Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MoHCDGEC), Dr. Mpoki Ulisubisya, and His Excellency, the German Ambassador, Dr. Detlef Wächter, together with the Regional Medical Officers Dr. Wedson Sichalwe (Mtwara) and Dr. Makenge Gwenchele (Lindi) presented the achievements in new-born care improvement through their joint programme “Improving Maternal and Child Health” (IMCH).

Every year an estimated 15 million babies worldwide are born preterm (before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy). In Tanzania, around 236,000 babies were born preterm in 2015.

The IMCH-programme was launched in 2015 and aims at reducing maternal and newborn mortality in the regions of Mtwara and Lindi. Under the stewardship of the MoHCDGEC and with technical support from GIZ, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, both regions introduced a comprehensive intervention package to uplift new-born health care in all their health facilities.

As a result, Mtwara and Lindi regions have set new standards in successful new-born care in Tanzania. The programme has proved that the right set of protocols, skill-oriented trainings and mentoring, essential equipment and basic training in maintenance and repair can make a difference. Within 2 years, both regions succeeded to substantially improve new-born care and reduced new-born mortality by almost 38%. Furthermore, more preterm babies who survived grow into healthy children without developing long-term disabilities.

The achievements of Mtwara and Lindi are an important milestone on the way forward to fight newborn mortality in the country. To support this way forward, His Excellency, the German Ambassador, handed over a set of medical training equipment including special training material to the Honourable Permanent Secretary of Health to be used for trainings of medical staff in advanced new-born care in other regions.