Save Preemies, a campaign to save premature babies launched in Mumbai

Every year, eight lakh new born babies die, due to non-availability of proper treatment and lack of infrastructure.  In Maharashtra, the child mortality rate is 24 per 1,000 and in Mumbai alone, there is a need of 500 to 1,000 neonatal intensive care units

Save Preemies, a campaign to save premature babies launched in Mumbai
According to recent data of National Family Health Survey-4, the child mortality rate is nearly 24 (per 1,000 births) in Maharashtra, of these, two-thirds are premature born babies

Surya Hospital, city’s largest neonatal care hospital, where Bollywood Director Karan Johar’s twins are currently undergoing treatment as they are preemies, has launched a Save Preemies campaign to save lives of premature born babies.

Every year, eight lakh newborn babies die within a few hours / days after birth due to unavailability of infrastructure and timely treatment. Country’s financial capital Mumbai also lags behind when it comes to neonatal treatment and infrastructure.

Mumbai needs at least 500 to 1,000 neonatal intensive care beds (NICU) to save premature babies. Calling this situation alarming, doctors at Surya Hospital say it was necessary to start a ‘Save Preemies’ campaign to spread a word about importance of neonatal care across India.

“At least, 50 % of pre-term deaths are preventable with routine measures like use of steroid or injection magnesium, which protects baby’s brain, and to protect babies from any complications after birth, more number of NICU units, well-trained medical experts and education is must. Premature baby can have a healthy and normal life with specialised medical care,” said Dr Bhupendra Avasthi, Director, Surya Mother and Child Hospital, who heads India’s largest neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

“Infant and maternal mortality rate under five years has come down to a great extent. But, government and health departments need to focus on neonatal mortality rate, which is crucial for child’s survival, and that rate has not reduced. This aspect needs urgent focus,” said Avasthi.

According to recent data of National Family Health Survey-4, the child mortality rate is nearly 24 (per 1,000 births) in Maharashtra. Out of these, two-thirds are premature born babies. Whereas in India, out of total birth, 13% are premature babies and 20% are small babies.

Save Preemies, a campaign to save premature babies launched in Mumbai
India witnesses maximum number of neonatal deaths in the world. Mumbai only has 315 NICU beds for pre-term babies

“To treat premature babies, different types of equipment are required. Their little bodies still have underdeveloped parts, which includes lungs, digestive system, immune system and skin. India needs many more NICU units for its preemies where they can survive the first few days, weeks or months until they are strong enough to make it on their own,” said Avasthi.

A baby that is born or has to be delivered before completing a term of nine months in the mother’s womb is called a pre-term baby. India witnesses maximum number of neonatal deaths in the world. Mumbai only has 315 NICU beds for pre-term babies.

Dr Jayashree Mondkar, a Neonatologist at LTMG Sion Hospital – one of the three tertiary care hospital run by Mumbai civic body, said, “We have 12,000 deliveries every year, of which around 3,000 are pre-term babies.”

Commenting on availability and affordability, Awasthi said, “There are a few hospitals with NICU units. People from far-off places have to travel to avail this health service. So, we really need to work hard in the field of neonatal care, because not a single child should die due to unavailability of neonatal care,” said Avasthi.