23 babies die within a month at Mzimba Hospital

Statistics at Mzimba District Hospital have shown that 23 babies out of 1,000 live births die within 28 days, which is relatively higher than the figures at national level that stand at 27 deaths out of 1,000 live births.

This was revealed on Thursday during neonatal stakeholders review meeting on current status of neonatal care service provision organized by Paediatric and Child Health Association of Malawi (PACHA).

District Medical Officer (DMO), Dr Alinafe Kalanga, attributed this to lack of essential equipment and supplies which she said are negatively affecting quality delivery of neonatal services at the hospital.

She cited inadequate heaters at the nursery ward as one of the main factor compromising care for the premature babies, saying they do not suffice the number of neonates which goes up to over 70 per month.

“We are facing challenges, especially in the nursery section. We currently do not have the heaters which are very necessary to those babies who are born prematurely, and as a result babies are dying because of hypothermia,” Kalanga said.

Added Kalanga: “These challenges need a multi-sectorial approach because with the little funding we cannot manage to buy the heaters, neither the feeding tubes. And looking at the nursery ward, it is very small [compared] with the number of premature babies being admitted,” said Kalanga, adding that the number of premature babies goes up to 100 per month.

She commended Paediatric and Child Health Association of Malawi (PACHA) for coming forward to assist and improve in the nursery ward with a number of capacity- building sessions to nurses and clinicians.

Programmes Manager for PACHA, Ernest Moya, said his organization decided to support and improve the quality of neonatal care at the hospital looking at the gaps that hospitals face in Malawi.

“As PACHA in 2013, we found out that previously, premature babies had no specific place where they could go and get support. There was also shortage of equipment and knowledge on how such babies can be taken care of,” he said.

Moya added that,”In this project, therefore, we have come to assist the government and we have renovated nursery wards in six facilities where we are working, including Mzimba Hospital, to ensure we improve quality of critical neonatal care in referral facilities in the country.”

One of the participants to the meeting, Group Village headman Peter Ndabandaba, said as a local leader, he would take up an initiative to reach to his subjects to ensure every pregnant mother attend antenatal service within three months to prevent problems like prematurity, to reduce challenges faced by kangaroo section at the hospital.

PACHA works in ten health facilities across the country with support from United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Source: Malawi News Agency – MANA