Surge in preterm babies overwhelm Masaka's limited neonatal ICU

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Surge in preterm babies overwhelm Masaka's limited neonatal ICU
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Rising in cases of premature births attribute to heatwave, which doctors say is causing too warmth inside wombs

HEALTH | The medical fraternity at Masaka Regional Referral Hospital is facing a pressing concern as the influx of premature babies has surged, surpassing the capacity of available accommodation facilities.

This worrisome development has prompted healthcare professionals, led by Dr Herbert Kalema, a senior gynaecologist at the hospital, to voice their apprehensions regarding the lack of adequate space to cater for the growing number of preterm babies.

Dr Kalema revealed that the hospital has witnessed a drastic increase in the number of premature births, with statistics indicating a doubling of cases compared to previous records.

“We have been receiving around twenty-five premature births but this year from February the number is increasing and now they are in forties," he said.

This unexpected surge has put a strain on the hospital's resources, particularly concerning the provision of appropriate accommodation for these vulnerable newborns.

In an exclusive interview, Dr Kalema expressed his concerns.

Dr Herbert Kalema, senior gynecologist at Masaka Regional Referral Hospital

"The situation is becoming increasingly challenging for us," he said.

"With the sharp rise in premature births, we are facing a critical shortage of space to accommodate these babies. It's imperative that we address this issue promptly to ensure the well-being and proper care of these infants."

Premature babies require specialised care and attention, including access to incubators and neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) to support their fragile health conditions.

However, the limited availability of accommodation poses a significant obstacle to delivering optimal healthcare services to these newborns.

Mothers attend to their premature babies at Masakahospital

“Our hope now is in the new block they are building but as of now we practice hygiene and you have seen mothers entering their clothes that are given hygiene to our babies,” Dr Kalema added.

He attributed the rising cases of premature births to too much heatwave, which medics is causing too much warmth inside wombs.

The hospital administration has acknowledged the urgency of the situation and is actively exploring viable solutions to address the accommodation shortage.

Efforts are underway to mobilise resources and secure additional space to accommodate the growing number of premature babies effectively.

A mother attends to her premature baby at Masaka Regional Referral Hospital | Zainab Ssengengo

"We are working tirelessly to find practical solutions to this pressing issue," said Dr Charles Tumushiime, the hospital administrator.

"The welfare of premature babies is a top priority for us, and we are committed to ensuring that they receive the highest standard of care despite the challenges we face."

The Ministry of Health is being urged to support the hospital in its endeavour to expand accommodation facilities for premature babies.

Collaborative efforts are deemed essential to alleviate the strain on existing resources and provide adequate care for these vulnerable newborns.

As the medical fraternity at Masaka Regional Referral Hospital grapples with the surge in premature births, the call for urgent action resonates louder than ever.

With concerted efforts and collective support, it is hoped that viable solutions will be implemented swiftly to address the accommodation shortage and safeguard the well-being of premature babies in the region.

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