Bomet County joined the rest of the world in observing World Premature Day, rallying under the theme “small action, big impact—skin-to-skin care for premature babies”.

The celebrations held at Longisa County Referral Hospital were presided over by Bomet County Governor, Prof. Hillary Barchok.

Governor Barchok emphasized the importance of the world premature day, which has been celebrated in Kenya since 2011. He noted that premature births are a major public health concern, with more than 12% of babies born preterm.

With the day’s key message being small action, big impact, and a call for skin-to-skin quality care for every baby everywhere, Governor Barchok encourages mothers to visit antenatal clinics at least four times before delivery as a way of reducing the rampant number of premature births.

Governor Barchok calls on fathers to also be involved in the journey of ensuring that these babies are fully taken care of, even in small ways that could save their lives.

After visiting a nursery at Longisa Hospital, Governor Barchok expressed appreciation for doctors and other healthcare providers for their dedication and commitment to saving lives, recognizing that without their efforts, premature babies born in the facility and beyond would not have seen the light of day.

In addition, Governor Barchok was proud that Longisa Referral Hospital has been able to midwife the birth of babies born prematurely, just after 22 weeks, and then nurture them through kangaroo mother care. The two babies are now over two years old, and they are doing well under the close supervision of medics at Longisa County Referral Hospital.

In Kenya, the neonatal mortality rate is 21 deaths per every 1000 live births, underscoring the need for communities to address the challenges facing premature infants.

Governor Barckok is actively working on plans to equip and operationalize various medical facilities across the county, demonstrating a commitment to enhance neonatal care.

Governor Barchok thanked Bishop Maiyo and Neqtar Medical Clinic, led by CEO Trond Heldge Kristiansen from Norway, for making the day a success. Stating that they have pledged to equip the Dr. Joyce Laboso mother and child wellness centre in recognition of the efforts that the county is putting towards the health of children and their mothers.

World Premature Day, observed annually on November 17, raises global awareness of the challenges for babies and women associated with preterm birth and celebrates the lives of preterm infants. Preterm is the leading cause of death, with an estimated 15 million babies born prematurely every year across the world.