A handover of the gifts for moms and babies on World Prematurity Day. Supplied image.
A handover of the gifts for moms and babies on World Prematurity Day. Supplied image.

R700 000 in gifts for moms and babies raised to commemorate World Prematurity Day

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Dec 3, 2021

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Johannesburg - 15 million.

That is the staggering number of babies who are born preterm each year around the world, accounting for one in every ten children.

About 84,000 of these births occur in South Africa, and 10 percent of the preterm infants born in the country do not survive despite the majority of preterm births occurring at healthcare facilities.

In South Africa, more than eight out of 100 babies are premature (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and the country ranks 24th out of 184 countries for the number of newborn deaths due to complications from preterm birth.

With the world having recently celebrated World Prematurity Day, the Saturday Star caught up with a healthcare professional in Johannesburg who has been passionately working around the clock to raise awareness on preterm birth in South Africa.

Dr. Ferini Dayal, a community service doctor at Thelle Mogoerane in Vosloorus recently raised over R700 000 in gifts for moms and babies on World Prematurity Day.

The 27-year-old chats to us about the importance of raising awareness around preterm birth in the country.

Dr. Ferini Dayal, a community service doctor at Thelle Mogoerane in Vosloorus recently raised over R700 000 in gifts for moms and babies on World Prematurity Day. Supplied image.

Why is World Premature Day so important to you?

Statistics indicate that over 15 million babies a year are born prematurely. In my first month of paediatrics, I worked in the admission ward at one of the biggest academic teaching hospitals in the Southern Hemisphere, in some months over 2000 babies were born, of which many were premature and we as junior doctors would be the first on-call resuscitating. It opened my eyes to a major reality occurring in South Africa, and thus I made an active effort to spend World Prem Day, not just supporting moms to prem babies but educating them on the realities of raising a baby in South Africa.

As a doctor, have you worked with premature babies, and what has your experience been like?

Yes, part of our training is to rotate through neonates where we are expected to complete a neonatal resuscitation course, as we work with many premature babies too. My first encounter with premature babies were twins 900g and 870g, that I had to resuscitate alone because we were overwhelmed that night as always by the amount of numbers patients to doctors, mom had given birth in the car, was unbooked and I was first on site to help. Its absolutely terrifying when your finger is the size of the entire chest while you do CPR, but saving a life in those circumstances is a moment you never forget.

World Premature Day was celebrated last month. You raised a substantial amount of money. Can you tell me about your efforts to raise money?

I worked in conjunction with incredible organisations (Mini Miracles, KLC, Tommie Tippie, Fingertips of Africa), and together we raised items that many of the moms leaving the hospital have expressed that they would never have, these included clothes, blankets, baby baskets, dummies, pads for moms, baby creams, nappies, knitted overalls and so much more for our moms and babies. No money was collected, only gifts were donated in the form of the above-mentioned. In all the drives I do through the Dayal Foundation, only gifts are donated through any individual or company that sees fit to support my cause.

What are some of the challenges we face in SA when it comes to premature babies?

A large majority of our premature babies are born to moms who are unemployed, have no source of income, some are teenage mothers, and the majority of our moms are uneducated or have not completed matric. Premature babies have many health complications that require moms to attain regular visits to the hospital and long-term follow-ups to ensure they are developing appropriately. This cannot occur due to financial challenges our moms face, which accounts for a large gap in health care for our prem babies. This accounts for the most pertinent issue we face in SA regarding our moms and babies overall.

A handover of the gifts for moms and babies on World Prematurity Day. Supplied image.

How important is it to raise awareness on premature babies?

It's essential that we teach our societies and communities about our premature babies, with the statistics being relatively high and the health complications which can be fatal, it's a significant part of education for our future and current moms and dads to be aware of.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you spent World Premature Day?

I was so privileged to be part of World Prematurity Day on the 17th of November at Thelle Mogoerane Hospital and to be the guest of honour on a day that is so dear to my heart was an honour in itself. The day involved many moms from both neonates and the premature ward joining a group of doctors, nurses, and allies in a programme that included talks from all disciplinaries and it covered a multitude of topics that fit the brief of being a mom to a baby in South Africa. Thereafter we spoilt our moms with gifts and baskets to aid them in having a safe haven to hold their baby, “the Moses basket`”, lastly we visited moms in the ward and concluded our day with a prayer. It was a beautiful commemoration and I’m so grateful to say that we raised over R700 000 in gifts for our moms and babies on that day.

The Saturday Star

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