NEST360 joins Nigerian health leaders to present newborn care guidelines for World Prematurity Day

Written by: Professor Chinyere Ezeaka

Contributor: Nicole Moreno

NEST360 Equipment Installation training at the UCH, Ibadan November 2020; a NEST pilot site.

Each November, countries across the globe come together for World Prematurity Day to call attention to the babies who were born too early and the immediate and long term health challenges they face; and to acknowledge their families and healthcare providers. Premature birth and its complications are the main cause of newborn deaths in the world. More than 1 in 10 infants are born prematurely, resulting in an estimated 15 million preterm births per year, and sub-Saharan Africa bears a disproportionate uneven high burden of these births. It has been further estimated that nearly one million preterm newborns die in sub-Saharan Africa each year, mostly from a lack of equity in healthcare resources to provide the needed interventions. 

The theme for this year’s celebration is, ‘Together for babies born too soon: caring for the future.’ This is still an urgent health crisis, made all the more challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic. We must raise awareness and not lose momentum toward achieving global goals for newborns.

This year in Abuja, NEST360° joined with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), and Development Partners—World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund, Save the Children, Clinton Health Access Initiative, Every Breathe Counts, U4O Oxygen Coalition and GSK— and Professional Associations—Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN) and the Nigerian Society of Neonatal Medicine (NISONM)— to recognize World Prematurity Day (November 17) and World Pneumonia Day (November 12) and to initiate the roll out of new national guidelines for comprehensive newborn care in Nigeria.

Presentation of the comprehensive newborn care guidelines at the Federal Ministry of Health. (From left to right) – Vice President of the Nigerian Society of Neonatal Medicine (NISONM) – Dr. Olukemi Tongo; National President of the Paediatrics Association of Nigeria – Professor Edward Alikor; Director of the Child Health Division, Federal MOH Abuja – Dr. Stella Nwosu; NEST360° Nigeria Clinical Lead – Professor Chinyere Ezeaka; The Head of the Newborn Branch at the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja – Dr. John Ovuoraye; Professor of Paediatrics, University of Lagos – Professor Ekanem Ekure

These guidelines were very well received as a critical first step to addressing Nigeria’s lack of a national program for comprehensive care of the sick and small newborns. At this event, it was reiterated that these guidelines are a major step for the FMOH to start rolling out comprehensive newborn care course trainings; and fill the gap for care of the sick and small newborns in the referral facilities. NEST360° is proud to be working in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health to bridge this crucial gap, and through trainings and technologies lay the groundwork for sustainable change. This event reaffirmed the commitment of NEST360° and its partners to reducing morbidity and mortality among babies born too soon in Nigeria.