- Florence Kahibi found herself at the hospital due to a premature rupture of membranes and mild contractions.
- The Nairobi West Hospital is a Beacon of Hope for Premature Babies
- Gift, born prematurely, required specialized care at the neonatal intensive care unit
On 22 September November, 34-year-old Florence Kahibi found herself at the hospital due to a premature rupture of membranes and mild contractions.
Her baby, Gift Kahibi, arrived at 29 weeks, prompting an emergency Cesarean Section at Murang’a District Hospital in Murang’a County.
Transfer To Nairobi West Hospital
Gift, born prematurely, required specialized care at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
As Murang’a District Hospital lacked such facilities, the baby was referred to The Nairobi West
Hospital, a modern private healthcare facility in Nairobi, Kenya.
The journey took the baby across three counties before admission to the NICU at The Nairobi West Hospital.
At birth, Gift weighed a mere 1000 grams and faced complications related to prematurity such as
neonatal sepsis, neonatal jaundice and congestive cardiac failure due to PDA.
Florence Expresses Gratitude
Florence expressed her relief, stating, “I was really stressed, but after being assisted at The Nairobi West Hospital, I am now stress-free and I know I will raise my baby well.”
Fortunately, a vacant incubator awaited Gift at The Nairobi West Hospital.
After sixty days, she achieved a correct gestational age of 38 weeks and a weight of 2,037 grams before finally going home at 41 weeks.
READ Also: Kenya Marks The 2023 World Prematurity Day
Survival rates for premature babies
Dr. Martha Gatumbu, a consultant pediatrician at The Nairobi West Hospital, notes that extremely pre-term babies are born before 28 weeks, while 28-31 weeks classify as very pre-term, and moderate pre-term encompasses births between 32 to before 37 weeks, according to the World Health Organization.
Survival rates for premature babies vary globally, with extremely pre-term infants born before 28 weeks facing lower survival rates, particularly in developing countries like Kenya. Developed nations exhibit higher survival rates, with 70-80 percent for preterm babies compared to 10-20 percent in developing countries like Kenya.
Improvement of neonatal mortality rate in Kenya has not been significant, even as childhood and under-5 mortality rates declined steadily, a recent study showed.
Neonatal mortality in the country declined to 21 deaths per 1,000 births in 2022 from 22 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014, according to the 2022 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS 2022) released January 17, 2023.
Childhood mortality declined steadily in Kenya since 2003, the report showed. Under-5 mortality (death of children under the age of five years) declined to 41 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2022 from 52 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014, it stated.
Children face the highest risk of death in the first 28 days — the neonatal period.
The leading probable causes of neonatal deaths among preterm or low birth weight infants were birth asphyxia, neonatal sepsis, respiratory distress and hypothermia, the researchers found.
Dr. Gatumbu emphasizes the emotional toll of pre-term birth on families, highlighting the potential for poor maternal mental health and long-term challenges such as cerebral palsy and neurological disorders.
Factors contributing to Preterm Births
Various factors contribute to preterm births, including lack of check-ups for pregnancy complications, unskilled antenatal care provision, nutritional challenges, infectious diseases, and rising rates of gestational diabetes among others, especially in low-income countries like Kenya.
The struggle to address these factors underscores the critical role played by healthcare facilities like The Nairobi West Hospital in providing specialized care for premature infants, offering hope and support to families facing the challenges of preterm birth.
Story By Elishifa Wangechi & Judith Kanaya