The Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Kailesh Kumar Singh Jagutpal, effected a visit, this morning, at the Neonatal Unit of Dr Bruno Cheong Hospital, in Flacq, in the context of the World Prematurity Day 2021.
In his address, the Minister highlighted that it is the first time that Mauritius is celebrating the World Prematurity Day having as theme this year, 'Together for babies born too soon - Caring for the future'.
Dr Jagutpal indicated that in Mauritius, there is currently an average of 12,000 deliveries each year, with some 2000 babies who are born prematurely. On this score, the Minister underpinned the imperative need of having a neonatal unit which offers a dedicated space and services specialising in the intensive care of prematurely born infants to save their lives and to further reduce infant and neonatal mortality rate.
Prematurely born babies, he pointed out, have a fragile health and need intensive and prompt medical attention during the first days of life, otherwise they either die or suffer from long-term health complications.
Hence, the Health Minister emphasised that it is important to create awareness about prematurity and about care given to premature babies in Mauritius so that people in general are aware of the work that is being put to offer the best possible care for premature babies. He lauded the courage and strength of the parents, who, even in the difficult times when their babies are in critical conditions in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs), remain positive.
Minister Jagutpal reiterated Government's intent to continue to provide quality healthcare by investing massively in the latest medical technology and appropriate modern infrastructure. According to him, along with these facilities it is essential to have a competent staff and, in this context, additional medical personnel is being trained to work in the NICUs and provide better antenatal follow up.
In the same vein, he recalled that a national 10-bed capacity NICU combining state-of-the-art advanced technology with trained healthcare professionals was set up at the Victoria Hospital last month. He also announced that NICUs are being equipped with latest apparatus to provide best treatment for pre-term babies such as cooling therapy and nitric oxide therapy to help prevent chronic lung disease and protect premature babies against brain injury among others.
The Health Minister stressed that even if the public healthcare sector is already equipped with a pool of highly skilled and well-trained staff who are required to provide efficient services, it is imperative to upgrade our services in neonatology. On this score, he evoked the visit of Dr Simon Clark, the Neonatal Consultant and Vice President of Policy at the Royal College of Pediatricians and Child Health in October 2021 so as to advise on the best practices to improve Mauritius's whole neonatal service.