A new borne who was referred to the regional referral hospital in Mongar from Samdrupjongkhar hospital died midway before reaching Khaling on September 11.

The baby was delivered prematurely (about 32 weeks) at home in Lauri gewog on September 10. The mother and child were immediately rushed to the nearest BHU located a few minutes away from their house.

Health officials at the BHU said the infant measured only 4 out of 10 on the Apgar score, which is a measure of the physical condition of a newborn that includes heart rate, respiratory effort, muscle tone, response to stimulation and skin coloration of the infant.

Going by the infant’s critical condition, he was referred to the Jomotshangkha BHU from where he was again referred to the hospital in Samdrupjongkhar.

Samdrupjongkhar health officials said that the infant had a low birth weight. He weighed a kilogramme.

They said that the new borne reached the hospital in a “fairly okay” state from the BHU. “There were no physical complications so we continued with the same treatment here,” said one of the officials.

Kuensel learnt that the baby was born prematurely and that the mother used to be an alcohol dependent. Without proper nutrition, the official said that the infant had not developed well inside the womb.

Without a paediatrician and facilities like incubator at the hospital, health officials decided to refer the infant to the nearest hospital with a child specialist. “The baby needed a specialist. We were planning to refer the baby to Gelephu hospital but the paediatrician there was out of station,” said the official.

After consulting the next paediatrician in Mongar, the hospital staff referred the new borne to Mongar.

The infant’s father said that he was their second child and that their first child, who is 3-years-old was born healthy. “She drinks occasionally as most of the villagers do but she is not a chronic drinker.”

Samdrupjongkhar dzongkhag reported five cases of infant mortality this year. Health officials said that the deaths were a result of premature birth.

Kuensel learnt that there were about 10-15 infant mortality cases recorded at the hospital last year. However, health officials explained that the number is not finalised and is currently under investigation.

According to the annual health bulletin 2016, the country has achieved goal number four of the Millennium Development Goals, which is to reduce child mortality.

In 2015, the infant mortality rate was recorded at 30 per 1,000 live births and the under-five mortality rate stood at 37.3 per 1,000 live births according to the bulletin.

Mortality due to low birth weight has increased from 11 in 2011 to 40 in 2015, according to the bulletin.

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang