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Scientists Call For More Investment As Kampala, Masaka Still Trail In Neonatal Care :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Scientists Call For More Investment As Kampala, Masaka Still Trail In Neonatal Care

The reports shows Uganda’s progress in cutting death of these babies has been very slow. In the last twenty years, neonatal mortality has only reduced from 25 per 1000 births to 22 per 1000 births currently. What’s more concerning the researcher says is the fact that urbanized areas like Kampala and Masaka which should be doing better are among those recording the highest neonatal care challenges.

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Scientists have asked government to invest at least 2.2billion shillings in setting up neonatal units in each district hospital, regional and national referral hospitals if they are to cut down on the 450,000 babies dying before making one month annually.

Speaking at the launch of the National Newborn Situation Analysis 2023 results on Wednesday evening, Dr. Peter Waiswa, a researcher at Makerere University School of Public Health said if this money is provided it would help in not only building structures but equipping and hiring appropriate stuff to handle very small babies. 

Dr. Waiswa says that so far the country operates with only five neonatologists leaving most of the care to be given by health workers that are not specifically trained in this area.

//Cue in:” The government needs ….   

Cue out: …. Five thousand babies.”//  

The reports show Uganda’s progress in cutting death of these babies has been very slow. In the last twenty years, neonatal mortality has only reduced from 25 per 1000 births to 22 per 1000 births currently. What’s more concerning the researcher says is the fact that urbanized areas like Kampala and Masaka which should be doing better are among those recording the highest neonatal care challenges.

//Cue in:” In the newborn ….   

Cue out: …. Not doing well.”/

Researchers note that Buganda areas still trail in providing proper neonatal care partly due to the fact that many private hospitals have not invested in providing neonatal care whereas those that have tried are quite unaffordable. In addition, Dr. Waiswa explains traditional practices in Buganda like herbal showers and pouring away the first and very nutritious milk have made worse.

//Cue in:” There are practices …  

Cue out: …. Not necessarily safe.”//

Data from the analysis shows 60% of the deaths in newborns is caused by asphyxia, a condition where they experience breathing difficulties. This is followed preterm birth.

Commenting about the findings, Prof Joy Lawn, a Professor of Child Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said with such figures, Uganda will need to double their investment in neonatal care if we are to hit the Sustainable Development Goal target of cutting neonatal deaths to 12 per 1000 live births by 2030.

Five years to 2030, many districts in Uganda still don’t have basics such as a room or a nurse dedicated to taking care of neonates, she says noting that there are cheaper and easy to use tools that the country can adopt  to save babies who for instance succumb to breathing challenges.

Responding to these concerns, Health Minister in charge of Primary Health Care Margret Muhanga said government is looking to invest more in national and regional referral hospitals which admit the biggest number of neonates. According already, majority of the deaths are happening in bigger hospitals than the health centers.

She notes that hospitals like Mbarara have already started putting up structures having obtained funds to set up a neonatal intensive care unit.          

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