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Kongwa hospital seeks to save preterm infants

KONGWA District Hospital is set to introduce a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to provide healthcare for ill and premature infants, a move that will help reduce infant mortality in the area.

The Kongwa District Medical Officer (DMO), Dr Margaret Kegashe, while launching the unit on Tuesday evening, noted that mothers who previously gave birth to premature infants at the hospital were referred to Dodoma Regional Hospital.

“Some premature babies would die while on the way to Dodoma Regional Hospital, about 84 kilometres from here,” said the DMO after receiving donation of equipment for the NICU from Doris Mollel Foundation (DMF).

DMF donated equipment worth 11m/- thanks to support from Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) Tanzania Limited. The donation includes incubators, mechanical ventilation, gastronomy tube (Gastric feeding tube) and special beds.

Dr Kegashe said urgent action was always needed to address preterm birth cases, posing a serious challenge for the hospital as it lacked the NICU, saying prematurity was a risk factor of early labour. Kongwa MP, Mr Job Ndugai, expressed gratitude to DMF for the donation, saying the unit would save life of premature infants delivered at the hospital which serves the population of 350,000 in the area.

“The oldest hospital in the area has experienced the challenge of provision of health service to premature babies after its equipment at Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was moved to the then St Margaret Hospital (Muhimbili National Hospital) in the 1940s,” observed the Kongwa MP-cum National Assembly Speaker.

Marketing Officer of DTB-Tanzania, Mr Sylvester Bhati, said the support was part of his bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), saying DTB-Tanzania sets aside two per cent of funds from its profits for the programme.

“The programme is aimed at supporting efforts by the government in healthcare, education services and environment,” he said.

Founder of DMF, Ms Doris Mollel, said the donation was part of celebrations to mark World Prematurity Day (WPD), which is observed on November 17, saying “I am delighted to take part in the event because I was born prematurely too.”

“ Today (Tuesday), we are in Kongwa for donation of healthcare equipment, tomorrow (yesterday) we’ll be at the Regional Hospital for the same event before conducting a seminar with women MPs on Friday,” she said.

The WPD was introduced to raise awareness of preterm births and concerns babies and their families worldwide.

Parents’ groups, families, health professionals, politicians, hospitals, organisations and other stakeholders involved in preterm births observe this day through media campaigns, local events and other activities.

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Author: LUDOVICK KAZOKA in Kongwa

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