STUDIO 24, a digital photography company, has launched Purple Baby Project in a bid to reduce premature births and the rising mortality of preterm babies in Nigeria.
The project was launched at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) to commemorate this year’s World Prematurity Day, with the theme: “Zero Separation, Act now! Keep parents and babies born too soon together.”
Speaking on the project, the Chief Executive Officer of Studio 24, Christopher Ifeanyi Oputa, said the company is embarking on a journey to save lives and raise awareness for a cause it strongly believes is grossly neglected in Nigeria
He said over the years, Nigeria has witnessed the dire rise of mortality in babies caused by lack of awareness, insufficient equipment, lack of maintenance programme for equipment in use, and knowledge on how to handle premature babies before transferring them to the hospital.
He said despite inventions and adoption of new technologies by countries across the world to reduce the mortality rates globally, Nigeria is still lagging behind, with statistics placing the country as the second highest in premature deaths.
Oputa also pointed at the lack of knowledge on the part of healthcare givers in knowing the right care to give to premature babies at the point of birth, adding that Studio 24 will equip the health providers in rural areas with new technologies and new safe practices of managing premature babies.
The Studio 24 boss explained that the focal points of the project include, to convert educational materials into a step-by-step audio and visual training resource for health professionals in caring/teaching expectant and newborn mothers, adding that this is also in line with the vision of training neonatal nurses.
Others are to facilitate the Purple Baby Equipment Maintenance Program in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) across selected hospitals, starting with Lagos State, and spanning across Nigeria, as well as arresting public attention by promoting content that inspires public awareness, engagement and goodwill for the Preterm New-Born and Vulnerable Baby Care in hospitals.
The Head, Neonatal Unit, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Prof Chinyere Ezeaka, lamented that Nigeria carries a disproportionate burden, as it records the highest numbers of newborn deaths in Africa and the second highest in the world.
She said while prematurity is the leading cause of deaths in all children less than five years old, three-quarters of these deaths could be prevented with current, cost-effective interventions.
Ezeaka said with early and good antenatal care, some of these conditions could be identified and managed appropriately to prevent preterm delivery.
She stressed that while the economic burden and the physical demand on the parents are often unquantifiable, the healthcare system is often overburdened, as their care is usually very intensive and requiring more staff than older children and adults.
Ezeaka said to prevent preterm births there is need to strengthen the healthcare systems and provide essential drugs and equipment.
She said all stakeholders must come together to promote low cost, effective, innovative medical equipment, adding that due to the immediate challenges to the survival of preterm babies, they require assistance to maintain temperature, breathe and in the area of nutrition.
This equipment, she said, include radiant warmer, oxygen concentrators, respiratory support breathing machines-bubble to aid their breathing; and more invasive mechanical ventilation for tertiary centres, phototherapy machines, pulse oximeters to monitor oxygen levels, glucose meter checks, infusion units, suction machines.