MUST and Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital Commemorate World Premature Day

Mbarara University of science and technology (MUST) joined Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital (MRRH) to commemorate world premature (preterm) day which is celebrated every year on November 17th to raise awareness about premature births.

The commemoration ceremony was held at MRRH and was graced by Dr. Celestine Barigye MRRH Director, the President of Mbarara Rotary Club, Dr. Jonans Tusiime the Deputy Dean Faculty of Medicine at MUST, and other stakeholders.

Dr. Barigye and the team in the guided tour at the MRRH paeditiatric department

The commemoration involved a guided tour of the pediatric department led by the Head of the Department of Pediatric and Child Health Dr. Elias Kumbakumba which houses the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the newly established Kangaroo mother care room. In the NICU preterms are put in incubators for a period of at least a month until they are stabilized and can be taken care of by their mothers.

Preterm babies in incubators at NICU Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital

When preterms are able to breastfeed and can breathe on their own, they are then taken to the Kangaroo mother care room where they obtain natural warmth from their mothers a method known as Kangaroo mother care. This involves preterm infants being carried, usually by the mother, with skin-to-skin contact.

Dr. Kumbakumba applauded the Ministry of Health, and the hospital administration led by Dr. Barigye for their support towards equipping the NICU, for example, the steady power source to provide the warmth needed in the growth of preterm babies and the Rotary Club for the establishment of Kangaroo mother care room.

‘’We are honored to be reflecting on the lives of preterm babies. In this region, we have been the only hospital with the initiative of taking care of preterm until recently when we were joined by Holly Innocents hospital in Nyamitanga. Our goal is to ensure that every mother with a preterm baby, goes out of MRRH with a live baby,’’ He explained. He further revealed that the in the last 8 years, the mortality rate of preterm at MRRH has been lowered from 10% to 8% currently.

Dr. Barigye inspecting one of the equipment at NICU Mbarara Regional Referral hospital

According to Dr. Stella Kayanja a senior pediatrician at MRRH, they were blessed to receive a grant from the Rotary Club of Mbarara to establish a Kangaroo mother care room that can accommodate about 20 mothers ago. She stated that mothers love the Kangaroo mother care initiative because it makes them comfortable and even fathers can freely do it to save their babies.

Dr. Kayanja also thanked the support from all the stakeholders and she mentioned areas that need more support for effective service delivery at the pediatric department.

‘’We want to save all the preterms at this hospital but their numbers are increasing because they are born every day. The increasing number of preterm comes with challenges that need to be addressed. We are limited with space where at times, mothers share beds which also forces us to use deckers which are not good because these preterms are fragile that need critical care. More nurses are needed to look after the babies because sometimes we have more babies with few nurses taking care of them,’’ she described.

She added that they have plans of carrying out more community outreaches about premature and monitoring them. This will also involve educating fathers to engage in the care of preterms.

Dr. Jonans Tusime appreciated the work done by Dr. Barigye and the team of health workers for their efforts in attending to mothers with premature babies and also for offering a practicing platform for MUST medical students. On behalf of the Faculty of Medicine, he pledged to offer full support to MRRH particularly to the pediatric department wherever it is needed.

Dr. Jonans- Deptuy Dean Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Barigye thanked the mothers for taking care of their babies and for not giving up on them, he advised them to follow the guidelines given to them by the doctors and nurses attending to them. He also disclosed that the hospital is prioritizing the needs of the pediatric department and they use all avenues to address the gaps mentioned.