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KNH admits to high death rate of sick newborns

Lack of life support machines at Kenyatta national hospital is the cause of high death rates of preterm babies and sick newborns, a senior administrator has admitted.

So severe is the deficiency at the institution that two in every five cases of preterm births and sick newborns are guaranteed to die.

Preterm birth is the birth of a baby of less than 37 weeks gestational age. The organs of such babies are not mature enough to allow for normal postnatal survival.

Approximately 40 per cent of preterm babies and sick newborns at the hospital die due to lack of life support machines, according to KNH acting chairperson Mr Jackson ole Mpario.  

In total, over 30 babies are delivered at the hospital every day, out of which five are either pre-term and or sick requiring life support equipment.

Mr Mpario made the admission during the launch of a project to renovate the Neo-natal and Intensive Care Unit at the hospital.

“The survival rate of low birth weight babies is currently 30 per cent in the prevailing challenges,” said Mr Mpario.

The unit will be expanded and equipped through public – private partnership  to cater for increased demand.

The unit has already received Sh50 million from the Safaricom Foundation through the Kenya @ 50 campaign to expand and equip the neonatal ward.

This accommodates over 100 babies at any given time despite its ideal capacity of 50.

Currently the unit has only 15 incubators and four ICU beds, a situation that worsens during crisis caused by strikes in other public hospitals.

“In the current scenario where KNH is receiving babies from other hospitals, we require not less than 24 ICU beds and 40 incubators to meet the increasing demand.”

Other projects at the hospital which are in the line of expansion or renovation include the Paediatrics and Burns Unit, Day Care Centre and Cancer Treatment Centre.