Bangladesh has to find a solution to prevent premature birth as around six lakh babies are born prematurely each year in the country, making it fourth among the ten countries that have high rates of preterm births, said health officials yesterday.
The premature babies are born usually with low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams) and run the risk of deaths, said Dr Md Jahurul Islam, the deputy programme manager of the neonatal health programme of the health ministry.
“Of the premature babies, some 20,000 children die every year,” he said at a roundtable organised by Bangla daily Prothom Alo at its office in collaboration with UNICEF Bangladesh.
Dr Jahurul said the premature babies have lower body temperature than normal, and face risks of infection and lung complications.
Prof Abul Kalam Azad, director general of the Directorate General of Health Services, said it is time to look into the issue thoroughly for a solution to prevent premature birth. “We must reduce child and maternal deaths.”
Bangladesh Neonatal Forum President Prof Tahmina Begum said similar to a kangaroo joey that gets tender care in its mother's pouch, a premature baby also has to be given special care by keeping it very close to the mother's body. An expert physician has to be consulted as soon as the baby encounters any problem, she said.
Health experts from the government, UNICEF and non-government organisations took part at the discussion that was moderated by Prothom Alo Joint Editor Abdul Quayyum.