The Official Publication of Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health - Philippines

Take a break and watch these #FightForPreemiesPH videos

Health Promotion and Advocacy Update
Prepared for World Prematurity Day 2015

Photo: World Prematurity Day Facebook Page
Premature birth is a very serious health problem. Worldwide, 15 million babies are born preterm and more than a million die as a result. This is more than one in 10 babies – and these numbers are rising. Babies who survive often have lifelong health problems such as cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, and intellectual disabilities.

Whilst 60% of preterm births occur in Africa and South Asia, preterm birth is a global problem. There is however, a dramatic difference in the survival of premature babies depending on where they are born. More than 90% of extremely preterm babies (less than 28 weeks) born in low-income countries die within the first few days of life, whereas less than 10% of extremely preterm babies die in high-income settings.

‪#‎WorldPrematurityDay‬ is a crucial moment to reflect and commit to action to help address these inequities and to prevent unnecessary deaths and health problems caused by preterm births.

Here are six videos and a list of online resources for #FightForPreemiesPH:

#FightForPreemiesPH: 24 Oras feature on Preterm Births in the Philippines

"Preterm or Preemies" are babies born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed.

The Philippines ranks as the 8th country with the most number of preterm births and 12th country with the hightest number of preterm birth in every 100 live births. In 2010, country estimated indicated around 350,000 preterm cases which includes 12,411 deaths due to complications from preterm births.

"Hinga Hingalo"

HINGA HINGALO ni Baby; Choose Life, Reduce Newborn Deaths is a campaign championed by The Philippine Society of Newborn Medicine (PSNbM) in partnership with the Department of Health, PhilHealth and Dr. Jose Fabella Hospital to lead the discourse on prematurity as a prevalent national health issue. 

Twenty six -year-old Mira of Bulacan gave birth to twins who never got to see the light of day. Mira’s twins MJ and JM were lost to the world’s largest killer of babies: preterm birth complications. The thing with Mira and with most grieving mothers who had lost their children to prematurity is that they think medication is expensive and inaccessible to the poor—this is not entirely true. Possible interventions are within reach; just like the case of Sara Padilla, the 19-year old mom who also gave birth to a preemie, King Phillip. Sara’s baby survived and passed the critical stage due to medical interventions.

Going back to Mira, her twins are, sadly, now part of the infant mortality cases in the Philippines—cases that are badly in need of a dramatic reduction.  Albeit locally, the number of under-5 deaths declined significantly in the past twenty years, this is an achievement bound to be short-lived. The slow decline in newborn survival has had us missing out on our millennium development goal in reducing child mortality by two-thirds this 2015. (PSNbM Press Release)

#WorldPrematurity Day

The annual event, which takes place across the world every November 17, brings people together to raise awareness of the global problem of preterm birth, which is the leading cause of death globally in children under the age of five.

In 2008, the idea to create an international awareness day for preterm infants and their families was conceived during the first meeting of European parent organization organized by European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI). During the same year, the March of Dimes launched its Prematurity Awareness Month in the United States. The first international day for preterm births was first celebrated in 2009. The event was celebrated by a greater number of countries outside the region, hence the adoption of World Prematurity Day in 2011

According to the EFCNI, more than 200 countries participated in activities, and more than 60 countries planned special events. It is estimated that 1.6 billion people around the globe were reached in 2014.

Signs of Preterm Labor

In 2003, March of Dimes launched the MOD Prematurity Campaign. The campaign was centered in two goals namely (1) raising public awareness on the problems of prematurity, and (2) decreasing the rate of premature birth in the U.S. 

The campaign specifically funds and encourages investment to research on the causes and possible interventions to preterm births. It also aims to educated women about risk-reduction strategies and the signs of preterm labor, as well as generate concern and multi-sectoral action on the problem.

In 2012, March of Dimes released the following video on the signs of preterm labor which is an updated version of its 2008 video on the same topic.  

At Least 39 Weeks

Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait® is one of the recent campaigns of the March of Dimes. It aims to reduce elective deliveries before 39 weeks gestation. According to, more and more first-time moms are asking about scheduling their baby's delivery by c-section, even when there's no clear medical reason to do so. Although more moms are interested in surgical delivery, major medical organizations are headed in the opposite direction, urging healthcare providers to avoid performing unnecessary c-sections.

There are two main reasons why at least 39 weeks of pregnancy is needed. First, the baby's brain, eyes, ears and lungs are still developing in the last few weeks of pregnancy. In fact, a baby’s brain at 35 weeks weighs only two-thirds of what it will weigh at 39 to 40 weeks. Second, a pregnant woman's due date is an estimate, hence there is a possibility that it is off by one to two weeks. (March of Dimes)

Kangaroo Mother Care

The newborn's basic needs are warmth, nutrition, protection & stimulation.

Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is a high-impact, cost-efficient intervention that has proven effective in saving the lives of premature/LBW newborns. KMC is the early, prolonged and continuous skin-to-skin contact between the mother (or adult substitute) and her baby—both in hospital and after discharge—with support for feeding (ideally exclusive breastfeeding) and close follow-up after early discharge from the hospital. This approach helps regulate the baby’s body temperature, facilitates early initiation of and continued breastfeeding, reduces the risks of infection, and enhances brain growth and development. 

Kangaroo Mother Care is one of the feasible and cost-effective care interventions in saving premature babies. 

Visit the VYLH-Philippines #WorldPrematurityDay Album for some quick facts and infographics.

Premature birth is a very serious health problem. Worldwide, 15 million babies are born preterm and more than a million...
Posted by Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health - Philippines on Friday, October 30, 2015

Related Online Sources

World Prematurity Day Facebook Page.

EFCNI World Prematurity Day.
EFCNI History of World Prematurity Day. 

World Health Organization Fact Sheet on Preterm Birth.

March of Dimes: Prematurity Awareness Campaign. 
March of Dimes: Fighting Premature Birth.
March of Dimes: Global Problem of Premature Births. 
March of Dimes: Born Too Soon (Interactive Map).  

Born Too Soon: The global action report on preterm births.

Baby Center C-section by choice. 


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