Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announces government initiatives on World Prematurity Day, 17 Nov

South Africa will mark World Prematurity Day on 17th November 2016. According to the World Health Organization, globally an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm every year, and this number is increasing. Prematurity refers to a broad category of neonates born at less than 37 weeks' gestation, and preterm birth is the leading cause of neonatal mortality and the most common reason for antenatal hospitalisation.

Prematurity is one of the three major causes of new-born deaths in South Africa. The National Department of Health, continues to work in partnership with our stakeholders towards improving new-born care and under five child health and nutrition outcomes.

South Africa has spearheaded the use of innovative solutions including cost effective technologies towards improving outcomes for new-borns and children. Some of these initiatives include the first of its kind, largest public health scale up program ever, Mom-Connect - a mobile phone-based messaging service providing South Africa's estimated 1.2 million pregnant women with health care information during pregnancy and through the 1st year of the child's life.

Other innovative solutions to be showcased and launched during the event include a mobile Road to Health Booklet application for parents and caregivers to access key information on child care, immunizations. The application automatically reminds parents of clinic appointments, and gives them interactive tools and information to assess their child's health and development.

An innovative solution pioneered in South Africa for use in resource constrained settings to assess the growth of the baby in the mother's womb, will also be shared. This application can detect abnormalities that can lead to stillbirths.

To support health workers and motivate them we will also launch an application called NurseConnect which with MomConnect is designed to improve maternal care.

The above announcements form part of the World Prematurity Day activities which aim to raise awareness of preterm births. This year's focus is to highlight innovations that show the most promise in transforming the prevention, diagnosis and management of pregnancies and safe deliveries.

Source: Government of South Africa

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