Tygerberg Hospital celebrates resilience of preemies and excellence in care | Western Cape Government


Tygerberg Hospital celebrates resilience of preemies and excellence in care

17 November 2023

Tygerberg Hospital (TBH), the Western Cape’s largest public health facility, cares for nearly 800 of the tiniest of babies who have entered this world prematurely in its neonatal intensive care unit. It is from here that our pediatricians support critically ill newborns every day until they have developed enough to breathe, eat, and stay warm by themselves. Today, on World Prematurity Day, we raise awareness of the challenges faced by preterm babies and their families and celebrate how our hospitals provides high-quality neonatal care in the province.

Globally, about 1 in every 10 babies are born prematurely before 37 weeks of pregnancy. These babies often need time to catch up in both development and growth. At TBH, this catch-up time may mean learning to eat and sleep, as well as steadily gaining weight. “Our hospital is committed to ensuring that premature babies receive the highest standard of medical care and nurturing. With a multidisciplinary team of experts, we are equipped to offer comprehensive care for premature babies from the moment they are born until they are ready to go home. This includes supporting and empowering parents throughout their premature journey,” said Dr Gugu Kali, Head of Neonatology at TBH.

In line with World Health Organization recommendations, TBH promotes skin-to-skin care as early and as frequently as possible and full-time kangaroo mother care when the babies are stable. This facilitates bonding, breastfeeding, development of healthy intestinal flora, stabilisation of their vital signs and good development. The hospital encourages active involvement of the parents in the care of their babies while in hospital, to promote bonding and confidence in looking after their baby even after discharge from hospital.

“The final weeks of pregnancy are crucial for the development of organs and systems, and premature birth can interrupt this critical process. This is why it is crucial for us as government and society to continue to raise awareness regarding prematurity and the challenges it poses to pre-term infants. With annual fun walks and community fairs such as those organised by TBH, we are able to directly engage residents on this issue and ensure that we create a better understanding on the risks and services to support our premature infants. Only together can we keep our children healthy,” said Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Western Cape Minister of Health and Wellness.

Shamentia Kivido from Macassar is one grateful mother who appreciated the care she received at the hospital. Her daughter was born prematurely on 28 September 2023. “The doctors were really there for me during this challenging time and prepared me for our journey ahead. I had many unanswered questions about what was to come since all my other children have been born full term. That the doctors and hospital staff, in particular from the A9 and G1 wards, were there for us made our whole experience at the hospital pleasant.” 

Sheila Steyn, a first-time parent from Welgemoed, did not expect to give birth to a premature baby but feels beyond blessed. She gave birth to her daughter on 30 August 2023. “Holding my tiny baby in my arms for the first time is an experience that I would always remember. She is really so precious to me after having spent nearly a month in ICU. While there were complications with my daughter, I prayed a lot and am grateful for the support from my family. While this journey has its challenges, I am grateful to the hospital staff for their support and love to help give my daughter the best chance in life.”

To commemorate World Prematurity Day, TBH will be hosting several events and activities to raise awareness, educate communities and staff, and show appreciation to the resilient preterm infants and their families. These activities will include a fun walk, educational seminars, and care packages for the mothers of premature babies. We encourage the communities to join us, and to offer their support to families of premature babies. We are also very grateful to our supporters who enable us to provide the best care we can to these babies.