What World Prematurity Day Means to Me
By Tamim Meherzad and Michelle Rodriguez, White Ribbon Alliance
Every year, 15 million babies are born prematurely.
It’s a staggering number, especially considering that there is a steady increase in premature births each year. At White Ribbon Alliance, we are committed to creating a world where moms and babies are healthy and thriving.
Our commitment to reducing newborn deaths is exemplified by the efforts of White Ribbon Alliance National Alliances, such as WRA Pakistan, which has implemented a multi-level education and nutrition program for healthy moms and babies. Moreover, WRA Zimbabwe has impacted the community of Kwekwe with a birth preparedness program that has increased antenatal care visits, saving the lives of mothers and their newborns.
World Prematurity Day is a key moment to focus global attention on the leading cause of death in children under age 5 — complications from preterm birth — which account for nearly 1 million deaths each year. Without a major push to reduce these deaths, we will not reach the Global Goal, endorsed by 193 countries, to end all preventable newborn and child deaths by 2030.
Beyond our commitment and efforts for reproductive, maternal, and newborn health and rights, we observe World Prematurity Day because prematurity is an issue that hits close to home for our WRA family.
White Ribbon Alliance is comprised of a small team of committed and passionate individuals and, recently, we experienced the painful impact prematurity can have on a family when Tamim Meherzad, WRA’s Financial Reporting Analyst, became the father of a premature baby. Tamim, a husband and father, was expecting his third child in mid-October. We celebrated Tamim’s growing family with a team outing. Little did we know that two weeks after our outing, Tamim’s wife would be in distress and would have to deliver their baby prematurely.
Below is the note Tamim sent after his wife was stable after the birth of their third son:
Thank you very much for all your prayers, wishes and messages of support. Both mom and baby Zain are doing fine. Yes, we named him Zain, an Arabic word and Middle Eastern name which means handsome. He is so little and already so handsome for us, totally different than the other two and very specially to us. Mom is expected to be discharged today and baby Zain will remain in NICU for about 9 weeks before he can come home like a normal newborn baby.
Although the recovery road for baby Zain will be long, we are blessed that mom made it on time to the hospital and both baby and mom are receiving the best care available. The doctor told us that due to my wife’s sudden increased blood pressure — to its highest level — time was of the essence in saving baby Zain’s life without any damage.
When I hold Zain in my hands, I am once again reminded of the millions of mothers and babies around the world who can’t make it to healthcare facilities on time, or do not have access to any healthcare at all. Remember that your everyday work at WRA might save someone’s life somewhere at some point of time. May we all achieve all our goals, and may all moms and babies around the world receive the best care they deserve.
Do you have a personal experience with premature birth? Please help us spread awareness on prematurity by sharing your story with the world.