Sureita, the miracle baby
The little girl beats all the odds and brings joy to her family
Logia, Afar Region, Ethiopia – 28 December 2022 – “Sureita is my precious gift from Allah. She is a miracle to me,” says Kedija Mohammed dearly holding her baby girl.
The little one’s potent smile makes her mother forget a dismal journey to motherhood, full of challenges. After two disappointing miscarriages, Kedija was worried about her chances of having a baby. But she got pregnant again with the help of treatment in Addis Ababa, the capital.
“I was worried that the same thing will happen again. I stayed in Addis Ababa for three months. I couldn’t stay much longer there. Then I come back to Logia [her hometown] and continue my follow-up admitted to Dubti hospital,” she says.
Kedija was back and forth between hope and apprehension when her pregnancy reaches the six-month mark. To make things even worse, her water broke early, and the doctors had to take immediate action.
“They had to do the operation to save my baby. She was in distress. I was sad that she arrived before the seventh month. I saw my baby later, laying under the warmer and she was so tiny. I didn’t expect her to survive. Though the doctors told me they will do whatever possible to save her, I wasn’t convinced.”
The Dubti hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) staff rallied to save Kedija’s baby.
“We didn’t expect her to arrive that soon, she was fragile,” says Dr Abubakar Mahamud, Medical Director of the hospital and who is also a pediatrician. “We know how Kedija and her husband were struggling to have a child and we had to do everything to save their precious baby.”
With constant follow-up and intensive care in the hospital for weeks, Kedija’s baby was finally allowed to go home. Further checkups also continue until the little girl gets all the strength she needs to survive. And her mother named her ‘Sureita’, meaning a ‘gift’.
Despite all the challenges, the survival of Sureita, is a miraculous one, thanks to the dedicated health works of the Dubit hospital.
In Ethiopia, the lack of quality services during pregnancy and delivery puts thousands of babies at risk. Even after birth, the first month of life is the most vulnerable period for children. The numbers are staggering. About 108,000 newborns die every year mainly because of prematurity, infectious diseases, and other neonatal complications.
Most newborns can survive and thrive if they receive quality health care. Small and sick newborns like Sureita require specialized care by well-trained staff in an appropriate and dedicated space. Yet, newborn survival is harder in places like the Afar region where the availability of such services is very much limited.
To save more newborn babies, UNICEF with support from the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) is providing job aids, guidelines as well as essential supplies and equipment to health facilities in Afar. In addition, senior doctors from specialized hospitals also pay mentorship visits to build the capacity of health workers dealing with newborns in local settings.
“The clinical mentorship visits, and on-site trainings are critical to our work,” says Osman Hussien, head of the NICU at Dubti Hospital. “We have senior doctors coming here [Dubti Hospital] and mentoring us on infection prevention and other important neonatal intensive care procedures. They also trained us on how to provide care for small and sick newborns. Saving newborns is not easy, but when the little ones make it, the feeling is profound.”
Kedija is now preparing to celebrate Sureita’s first birthday in days, the miracle baby girl beats all the odds and brings joy to her family. “I feel like it is just a dream. I can’t believe she is turning one,” says Kedija.
* The optimizing care for newborns and children programme is implemented in collaboration with the Afar Regional Health Bureau and Emory University.
 Mini EDHS 2019
Birhanu, B.G., Mathibe-Neke, J.M. Interventions to enhance newborn care in north-West Ethiopia: the experiences of health care professionals.