Theme: A parent’s Embrace: A powerful therapy. Enable skin-to-skin contact from the moment of birth


Worldwide, 2.8 million babies die before one month of age with Sub-Saharan Africa facing the biggest burden. Uganda still struggles with a high neonatal mortality rate that has stagnated at 27/1000 live birth over the past 10 years. Every year, 15 million babies are born preterm worldwide and this figure is projected not to decrease. Prematurity and its complications contribute most (close to 40%) to newborn deaths in Uganda. At Mbarara regional referral hospital (MRRH), an average of 800 premature babies are admitted annually, and prematurity is the leading cause of neonatal deaths.

Amidst these struggles, the hospital has registered tremendous improvement in caring for preterm babies and improving their survival. We have set up a successful KMC program since 2021 with good parent engagement. On this note, we commemorated world premature day on 17th, November 2022 in the upper hospital parking Tent which started at 9:30am and ended at 1pm.

Program for celebrations for the world prematurity day at Mbarara regional referral Hospital was as follows;

No Item description Lead person Time
1. Showcasing the KMC Parent engagement program Dr. Stella Kyoyagala/Dr. Milly Nassejje, Dr. Olive Kenema 10:00am-10:30am
2. Opening remarks Dr. Kumbakumba 10:30-10:45am
3. Speech from a neonatal nurse Sr. Doreen/Sr. Addey 10:45-11:00am
4. Parent testimonies (5 minutes for each) Sr. Flora Habyara/ sr. Maureen, sr. Bashira 11:00-11:30
5. Future prospects Dr. Olive Kenema 11:30-11:40
6. A few Speeches MC 11:40-12:00noon
8. Speech from guest of honor Guest of Honor 12:00pm-12:15pm
Cutting the cake, photo shoot Dr. Linda/Sr. Addy 12:15-12:30pm

We had a successful function. The function was attended to full capacity by guests, hospital staff and administration, university staff and parents to preterm babies. The guests were able to view the NICU which has 3 operational areas. The ICU which houses the critically ill and very small babies, the KMC room which had an 8 bed capacity and was fully occupied  and the neonatal clinic where all babies previously discharged were being followed up until one year of age. All the 3 places were active.


The parents to preterm babies were happy to have this day celebrated for them and that they were invited. They had powerful and touching testimonies. They shared the worries and struggles they had with having a preterm baby, but above all, they appreciated the excellent work that the doctors and nurses do in caring for babies. It was this hard work that gave them hope and helped them to stay for months as they waited for discharge.

In other speeches, it was noted that the Department of Pediatrics is seeing increasing numbers of patients, of whom 6o% are newborns. On a good note, the mortality rate of newborns has gone down from 20% to 8% over the last 5years. This has been attributed to the different partnerships and the improved care that the department has put in place.

However, the neonatal unit still faces a big challenge of limited space. This has limited the quality of care given to the babies and their mothers and doesn’t allow adequate teaching space to the medical students. The unit as well needs more employed staff as there are only two pediatricians and 1 nurse per shift of an average of 60 babies per day. The unit needs a neonatologist to allow advancement to a level 4 NICU. The unit too needs to extend its services to more community engagement and encourage more clinical research.

The Deputy Dean was motivated and amazed at the work being done in the department of Pediatrics and Child Health. He was happy with the improved survival of newborns and future plans for the unit. He recognized the excellent work done by the university staff in this unit and recommended the university to recognize and reward it, at least with promotions.

The guest of honor, who was the Director of Mbarara RRH, was happy with everything the team was doing. He encouraged the hospital administration to be supportive to the work of the unit. More to this, his mission is to see that the new proposed 5 flow stored structure for Mbarara neonatal Centre is built to completion during his stay.




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