Elrick was born at only 7 months where he weighed only 1.2 kilograms, Emmanuel and Judd both below 1kg at 7 and 6 months respectively.
Today all three are in school, healthy and happy. Thanks to the hands and hearts of the doctors and nurses whom had cared for them from birth right through to discharge.
On Wednesday 17th of November the trio together with National Referral Hospital (NRH) officials and staff, doctors and nurses of the Paediatrics department and officials from the Australian High Commission gathered in what was an inaugural marking of World Prematurity Day in Solomon Islands, a statement issued by Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) Media Unit said.
The World Prematurity Day is marked around the world on the 17th of November each year.
Dr George Malefoasi Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NRH, in his remarks explained that the Prematurity Day allows for time to think about how they can better improve support towards the needs of premature babies and their families and about raising awareness around these needs.
As such, Dr Malefoasi highlighted the current situation at NRH.
“At NRH special care nursery is one of the busiest and always a fully occupied ward in the past years. Doctors and nurses constantly tried to create extra beds.
“In the past three quarter of this year, special care nursery has the highest bed occupancy rate of 166%, beyond the normal capacity hence the nursery has to expand into postnatal ward. There is only 14 beds for the very little ones and if we are lucky we get 20 beds.
“Literature has thought us that about 70 percent of premature babies are from week’s 34-36, and in Solomon Islands this is currently what we are seeing.
“Our own statistics at the hospital showed that from January to September 2021, of the total births of 4,668 births, 14 percent which is 695 babies were admitted to the special care nursery mostly due to premature dates or sick at birth,” stated Dr Malefoasi.
Sister Bethany, senior nurse at the nursery care also shared experiences to demonstrate challenge of bed shortages.
“Many a times the doctors requests for us to prepare beds for incoming premature or sick baby from the labour ward when all the beds are already full.
“It is a nightmare for us when we are confronted with such situation. Nevertheless we remain determine to do the best for our babies and optimistic that situation will continue to improve”.
The NRH CEO, used the occasion to also outline what the hospital management is embarking on to alleviate pressure on the limited resources.
“The hospital management is making use of all its available space and resources to alleviate chaos in the hospital.
“The additional seven maternity beds in the newly constructed extension should slightly ease the pressure on both postnatal mothers and their babies.
“In the NRH business plan 2021 plus, the hospital will create additional 12 beds to make a total of 26 beds. Soon with the completion of the renovated special nursery care unit we should accommodate more beds to make up the 26 beds,” said the NRH CEO.
Dr Malefoasi also took the time to acknowledge the great support received from private family firm, the Lee Ko Kuen, for the completion of the special nursery care which is scheduled for end of 2021.
He also thanked doctors and nurses for maintaining care services for the premature babies and acknowledged the presence of Australian High Commission officials who also attended the event.
Delivering brief remarks, Counsellor for Human Development at the Australian High Commission (AHC), Ms Julie McCallum thanked the team at the NRH for organising the event and inviting the AHC staff to share gifts with children in post-natal ward and join in on the inaugural event.
“Australia has been supporting health sector in many ways over the past decade. We are very pleased to continue this support through the Solomon Islands Medical Partnership for Learning, Education and Research program, known as SIMPLER where Australian Volunteers support the bridging and internship program for medical students after they return from their studies abroad.”
She also highlighted efforts to expand the program’s work plan to 2023 and expressed excitement that the Australian-funded Naha birthing centre sand urban health clinic design is near completion and building will commence next year.
“The world-class centre will greatly help in relieve pressure from on the NRH,” stated Ms McCallum.