PESHAWAR, 17 November: The World Prematurity Day is being observed in Pakistan as well as across the globe today on Thursday to reaffirm the commitment towards reducing the premature birthrate.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), about 860,000 premature births are recorded each year in Pakistan. Out of these, more than 100,000 children die due to different complications.

According to the statistics of the world body, about 15 million babies are born before time each year globally, and over one million of them die before their fifth birthday.

Pakistan is ranked second among the top ten countries that account for nearly two-thirds of all deaths from preterm birth complications. Without a major push to reduce these deaths, it will not be possible to reach the Sustainable Global Goal, endorsed by 193 countries, to end all preventable newborn and child deaths by 2030.

The World Prematurity Day is being observed to highlight innovations that show the most promise in transforming the prevention, diagnosis, and management of preterm birth.

Unicef emphasises that preterm births and child deaths can be reduced by strengthening health policies and services as well as improving access and care for mothers and newborns. Although notable achievements have been made in the health sector, a lot more is needed in terms of the quality of care for women and newborns.

An important aspect of prevention of preterm birth is adequate maternal nutrition which is critical for fetal development.

Health experts say that good hygiene care can help prevent multiple infections while early initiation of breast feeding within the first hour can also help prevent deaths.