The Ministry of Public Health in partnership with UNICEF launched the National Newborn and Prematurity Campaign
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BEIRUT, 24 November 2022 - The Ministry of Public Health, in partnership with UNICEF, launched the National Newborn and Prematurity Campaign to raise awareness on the importance of proper health care for newborns and premature babies and highlight the essential role of the family and health care providers.
Preterm birth is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five. In Lebanon, 639 Newborns died before reaching the age of 28 days in 2021. Premature babies are those who were born before 37 weeks of pregnancy and they are prone to serious illness or death during the neonatal period (the 1st four weeks of life), due to impaired respiration, difficulty in feeding, poor body temperature regulation and high risk of infection.
Minister of Public Health Dr. Firas Abiad said: "premature babies and newborns care is challenging to any health system, not just the Lebanese one due to its high cost in addition to the non-availability of some medicines and supplies and the downsizing of the financial coverage”. He also pointed on the repercussion of the emigration of a large number of experienced medical and nursing staff and added “We honour and respect all the healthcare workers and thank them for their ongoing commitment especially in these challenging times”.
“UNICEF continues to work with the Ministry of Health to support and scale up newborn lifesaving interventions throughout the country”
The National Newborn and Prematurity Campaign promotes the kangaroo mother care method, an immediate after birth skin-to-skin contact between preterm or small baby and their mother or their father. Benefits of the kangaroo mother care include a reduced risk of neonatal mortality by 40 percent, improved thermal regulation, infection prevention, breastmilk let-down, as well as facilitation of physiological, behavioural, psychosocial, and neurodevelopmental effects.
“UNICEF continues to work with the Ministry of Health to support and scale up newborn lifesaving interventions throughout the country,” said Ettie Higgins, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Lebanon. “Cost-effective interventions to save newborns include immediate skin-to-skin contact and early initiation of breastfeeding. This campaign is an opportunity to call attention to the heavy burden that preterm birth causes on parents, families, friends and on former preterm born children and to shed light on the fundamental fundamental role of parents as members of the NICU team and as protagonists of their baby’s development”.
During the press conference, and to honour and recognize the contributions of health workers in newborn care as well as to raise awareness of the challenges surrounding preterm birth and ensure that people are informed about the risks and consequences, 50 Neonatal ICU nurses received a certificate of appreciation in recognition for their ongoing contribution and care for sick and tiny babies, and their support and compassion with mothers and fathers in their darkest hours.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.org/lebanon/.
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