Almost 47,000 babies or 25 per cent of the total live births in Bangladesh are premature, a Prothom Alo roundtable was told on Tuesday.
About 24,000 of them die of ‘direct preterm’ complications.
Saying this, Jahangir Alam Sarkar, director general of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), expressed concern over health risk and morbidity caused by premature birth.
“About 80 per cent of preterm child deaths can be prevented only by washing hands and preventing infections,” he said.
Prothom Alo, in association with UNICEF, organised the roundtable on infant care, ahead of the World Prematurity Day for 17 November (Friday).
Worldwide, as many as 15 million babies are born prematurely every year.
UNICEF’s Ziaul Matin, in a presentation, said factors that cause preterm birth include adolescent pregnancy, short gap between pregnancies, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), domestic violence, tobacco intakes, and pollution.
Abdul Mannan, chairman of neonatology department at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, emphasised raising awareness about caring preterm babies.
State minister for health and family welfare ministry Zahid Malek said a proposal for recruiting nurses, midwives and physicians to help address the situation has already been sent to the prime minister’s office.
Mohammad Sharif of the family planning directorate, Khaleda Islam of the health directorate, and MAK Azad Chowdhury, secretary general of perinatal care association, addressed the roundtable moderated by Abdul Quayum, associate editor of Prothom Alo.