At World Prematurity Day commemoration: Health minister calls for collective action to curb death of premature babies.

The Minister of Public Health, Dr Manaouda Malachie, has called for collective action from health actors and the society to curb the death of premature babies. The minister made the appeal Friday November 17.

He was speaking at the Chantal Biya Foundation. This was during a ceremony to commemorate this year’s   World Prematurity Day.

The Department of Family Health of the Ministry of Public Health, headed by its Director, Dr Ebongo Zachs Nanje, piloted the commemoration.

The Day was commemorated this year under the theme: “Small actions, big impact: Immediate skin-to-skin care for every baby, everywhere”. 

According to minister Manaouda, premature babies are like every other child and deserve every form of support and love to boost their survival chances.

While saluting the role of the First Lady, Chantal Biya, in tackling the issue of premature births through the Mother and Child Centre of her Foundation, the Minister said government is not leaving anything to chance.

Dr Manaouda underscored the work of health workers in addressing the plight of babies born premature but remarked that, 85 percent of such deaths are avoidable.

In this light, he called for the redoubling of efforts to curb the situation. In addition, government the minister said, is focused on also reducing neonatal deaths.

The minister also saluted gains made through the application of the Kangaroo method to ensure premature babies survive. 

He appealed for the civil society, religious and community leaders to join the crusade in boosting support for premature babies.

Within the context of the Universal Health Coverage, UHC, rolled out by the Head of State, President Paul Biya, Minister Manaouda said, the safety of mothers and newborns is a priority.

According to the Director of the Mother and Child Centre of the Foundation, Prof Paul Olivier Koki Ndombo, the centre attends to between 248 and 307 premature babies annually.

In the last nine months, Prof Koki said the centre has also offered help to premature babies worth over seven million FCFA. 

According to the medic, 60 percent of premature babies always brought to the centre are in high need of oxygen. He also said there is high demand for free treatment, making the need for more donations vital for the centre.

Prof Koki thanked government and partners for always supporting the centre but said they are open for more assistance.

Minister Manaouda receiving donation from UNICEF as Dr Ebongo Zachs Nanje, others look on


UNICEF offers donation

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, used the ceremony to offer of consignment of equipment to the Chantal Biya Foundation.

The interim head of UNICEF in Cameroon, Leonard Kouadio, handed the gifts to the Minister of Public Health. Kouadio lauded government’s crusade in saving the lives of premature babies and curbing neonatal deaths.

He restated UNICEF’s commitment to continue supporting the government’s health policy especially in the domains that touch on mother and child health.

Premature deaths, the UNICEF official said, remains a major public health issue across the world. 

The theme for this year, Kouadio underscored, calls for synergy to improve the quality of care given to premature babies. He advocated for follow up for children.



To mark the day, survivors of prematurity who were attended to at the Chantal Biya Foundation, expressed gratitude to government while recounting their stories. One of them, Ngu Chelsea, 21, said she was born weighing just 600 grammes. There was also a set of triplets now aged five  whom their grandmother said  survived prematurity thanks to the  Chantal Biya Foundation.

To note that the globe started observing World Prematurity Day in 2009. The Day seeks to raise awareness on the challenges of premature births. It also boost global interest in research related to preterm births.

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