Lifecare Hospitals in Bungoma has invested in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) set to serve 10 counties in the country and some parts of Eastern Uganda.
The importance of setting up such a facility is to curb the rising infant deaths in the region. It is important for the World now to invest in medical technology after top hospitals in the world were shaken up by COVID-19.
A NICU takes care of infants who are at risk of dying due to complications related to preterm birth. Newborn babies who need intensive medical care are often put in a special area of the hospital which is now the NICU. The facility has advanced technology and trained healthcare professionals to give special care for the tiniest patients.
The number of well-equipped NICU centres is limited. According to Lifecare Hospitals’ Medical Superintendent Kevin Rombosia, the setting up of this facility is timely.
”With the introduction of a well – equipped NICU at LifeCare Hospitals, many of the newborns with birth complications can be attended to effectively thereby reducing perinatal mortalities in this region,” said Kevin.
In 2018, the neonatal mortality rate for Kenya was 19.6 deaths per 1,000 live births. Due to various interventions, the neonatal mortality rate for Kenya has been gradually decreasing; from 39 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1969 to 20 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018.
According to the Kenya Health Information System, perinatal mortality rates in Bungoma County have also been steadily reducing from 32 to 24 deaths per 1000 total births in 2014 and 2017 respectively. This includes deaths arising from complications related to pre-term birth.
Despite these cases reducing gradually, Rombosia notes that the standard according to World Health Organization standards and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, hence a need to increase access to NICU services so as to further reduce such occurrences.
Lifecare Hospitals’ investment will serve almost the entire western region and some parts of Uganda. The counties that will benefit in Kenya include Kakamega, Busia, Vihiga, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Siaya, Trans Nzoia, Kisii, Nyamira, and Migori.
A NICU costs upto tens of millions of Kenyan shillings to set up but is a worth investement, according to Rombosia.
”Whereas the cost of setting up a NICU can run into tens of millions, it is one of the most impactful investments in a hospital setting given the positive outcomes that it can potent for complicated neonatal cases. NICUs promote good outcomes,” said the medical superintendent.
Most babies admitted to the NICU are premature (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), have low birth weight (less than 2000g), or have a health condition that requires special care.