Bok skipper Siya Kolisi shows support for World Prematurity Day

By Norman Cloete Time of article published Nov 16, 2019

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Cape Town - Sunday is World Prematurity Day and who better to offer support than Siya and Rachel Kolisi, South Africa’s most high-profile parents of premature children?

The Springbok captain and his wife have two children, Nicholas and Keziah. Nicholas was born two months premature but has grown into a healthy boy.

Kolisi, who often visits the neonatal intensive care unit at Groote Schuur Hospital to empathise with mothers, understands the trauma associated with having a child in a critical condition.

In a video message, he said: “We are parents of a ‘premmie’ baby and we understand what it feels like. We love the work the Newborns Trust is doing. Everyone needs to help because there is so much work to be done to save these babies.”

Statistics show that one in seven infants are born prematurely in South Africa and that prematurity is the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5.

Groote Schuur’s neonatal unit caters for up to 3 000 infants a year from across the Western Cape at its renovated facility.

The ward is decorated in purple and staff and visitors wear purple, to commemorate World Prematurity Day each year.

IVAKHELE HILI was born on September 29 at Mowbray Maternity Hospital and weighed 1.1kg. Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, below, often visits the neonatal unit at Groote Schuur Hospital. His son, Nicholas, was born prematurely. Picture: HENK KRUGER African News Agency (ANA)

Some of the initiatives funded by the Newborns Trust include the MOM breast milk project. It helps arrange for the collection of breast milk from mothers who are unable to visit their children in hospital due to transport or financial difficulties, the refurbishment of a breastfeeding room at Groote Schuur Hospital, free wi-fi for nursing mothers in the unit and the specialised training of neonatal staff.

The provincial health department said there had been also been a significant focus on the benefits of kangaroo mother care, regarded as a critical intervention for infants born prematurely. It refers to the practise of providing continuous skin-to-skin contact between mother and child as well as encourages breastfeeding.

The Western Cape Government adopted the Mother Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, which requires that all infants be placed in the skin-to-skin position immediately after birth, and that a child should latch onto a mother’s breast within the first hour after birth.

Research has shown this intervention has increased chances of long-term exclusive breastfeeding.

Weekend Argus

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