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Absence of affordable quality Neonatal care for premature babies

The importance of access to well-equipped neonatal care centers to tackle premature birth mortality rate.

Photo of Aditi Bhandari
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 In a country like India, around 12% of the babies born every year are premature. And though the incidence of pre-term babies is on the rise, the survival rate is much higher with the rise in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU), which are equipped with sophisticated surfactants, ventilators and other machinery that helps the infant survive. 

A prematurely born baby requires a lot of care and its condition has to be monitored constantly. The surfactant required for children who suffer from respiratory distress costs between $120 and $150 per dose, while the daily cost of using a ventilator ranges from $30 to $75. A seven month-old child may have to be kept in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for over 20 days, so we're looking at a hefty hospital fee of over $3000 which is not an easy amount to spare in India, given that not everyone carries an insurance policy to cover the same.

Most of the hi-tech health care institutions provide good NICU capabilities which only the affluent ones are able to afford. The larger problem lies in the inaccessibility to an intensive care unit. Due to sheer ignorance, a large part of the population, irrespective of their financial status, chooses local nursing homes with only a birthing facility without any arrangements for an intensive care unit or even a close proximity to one. Pregnancy, in general, is pursued as a secretive affair here and a lot of people refrain from preparing for any untoward situations like premature births, leading to the above. The government health care units do provide such care units at a lot of places, however, population issue gets the better of it and the number of premature babies waiting to be incubated outnumbers the available units anytime.

So, such a situation poses two issues - one, easy access to the NICUs and two, affordability of the same. Due to one or both these reasons, a lot of babies who could have survived, do not. 


What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

A typical prematurely-born child weighing between 750 to 1,000 gms has a 56-70 per cent chance of survival, which is worth a shot, but only possible if the care facilities are available and affordable.

How does this research relate to our use cases and personas?

This would relate most closely to the under-resourced mom who needs to have a chance at having her baby survive a premature birth, after all the stress they have borne till the birthing process & beyond.

Tell us about yourself:

I am a digital marketing professional, who has suffered a similar loss of a premature child and is in touch with multiple others in my country, who have faced similar situations.

Are you currently an employee of Sutter Health or UCB Pharmaceuticals?

  • No

2 comments

Join the conversation:

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Photo of Lauren Ito

Aditi Bhandari 
Great to have you in the challenge. Thank you for sharing your journey and reflections. This challenge focuses on the time frame from the decision to conceive all the way through to 12 months postpartum. Reflecting on this time, do you have any suggestions for organizations, communities, or resources you found particularly helpful and would recommend to other mothers giving birth to premature babies? Would love to hear your feedback, especially with the unique lens you bring to this challenge.

Please provide those suggestions in the comments section or by emailing newlife@ideo.com.

Looking forward to learning more.

Photo of Obua Godfrey

Hi Aditi,
Thanks for your contribution.
We have a lot to do in taking care of pregnant mothers and new born babies as well.
I think this is the time for us to tell the untold story, and to call to action everybody to wake up to support neglect persons around us.
Regards,
Godfrey Obua.