Today is World Prematurity Day
According to the WHO, an estimated 15 million babies are born prematurely, implying that more than 1 in 10 babies are born more than 3 weeks early. They face complications, lower chances of survival, lifelong health issues, and need medical care in NICUs. Three-quarters of these deaths could be prevented with current, cost-effective interventions.
Today, 17 November, we recognise World Prematurity Day. At Medela, this day serves as a reminder of our ongoing commitment to advocate and innovate for our most fragile patients, with the goal to improve health outcomes and nurture health for generations. Under the arch of our Medela Cares programme, we actively support of the United Nations’ Every Woman, Every Child (EWEC) Initiative, tackling maternal and infant mortality and malnutrition. We further partner with The Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) and Laerdal Global Health to advance this goal and address the health challenges faced by women, children and adolescents around the world.
Through our work to support EWEC, Medela is taking on the leading cause of death in children under 5 years, which is complications due to prematurity. Many of these complications are reduced in incidence and severity by cost-effective interventions, such as feeding the infant with breast milk: Milk of the infant’s own mother is a highly effective medical intervention in the NICU. Through our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Lactation Quality Improvement (NICU Lactation QI) Initiative, we focus on the clinical need for an improved dose of Own Mother’s Milk (OMM) to enhance the health and survival of preterm infants.
As a result of this ongoing work, we have created NICU-specific educational content on the value of human milk for these most vulnerable infants and on the clinical interventions necessary to ensure an appropriate milk supply. These training materials are in use today as part of the QI Initiative in Nigeria. Our initiative has already enabled healthcare providers to implement new standards of lactation care in the NICU. Since 2014, we have advanced the EWEC agenda through successful initiatives, providing lactation and human milk training to NICU staff in 10 countries and 34 hospitals worldwide to date.
As part of our ongoing efforts to get mothers off to the best start, Medela has further created a NICU Lactation QI web portal. With this lactation-specific quality improvement online framework, we aim to empower all healthcare professionals to support mothers of NICU infants to effectively initiate, build and maintain their milk supply to really ascertain global reach for this key topic. This, in turn, ensures that vulnerable infants receive long exposure to a high dose of their own mother’s milk, thus improving health outcomes.