Lack of skilled neonatologists in most health facilities in the country has been blamed to the high death rate of newborn infants.
Neonatologists are trained medical practitioners who handle the most complex and high-risk situations, especially among premature newborns.
According to the Ministry of Health Division of Maternal Child and Community Health, out of 320,000 babies born in Rwanda annually, between 37,000 and 40,000 are born premature.
This contributes to more than a quarter of deaths in new borns.
A report by World Health Organisation (WHO), shows that the world loses 7,300 babies every day in the form of stillbirths.
Half of these deaths occur when the woman is in labour. A n estimated 15 million babies are born premature early every year.
WHO further indicates that approximately one million children die each year in the world due to complications of premature birth.
Many survivors face disabilities, among them visual and hearing problems.
A 2015 survey by Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), indicates that in Rwanda neonatal and post-neonatal mortality rates are 20 deaths per 1,000 live and 60 per cent of children die before the age of one and premature deaths stand at 36 per cent.
“We are still performing poorly in simple interventions such as kangaroo mother care, avoiding infections and monitoring babies with respiratory issues, most of which are quite achievable,” said Dr Felix Sayinzoga, Maternal Child and Community Health Division manager at the Ministry of Health, in an interview with Rwanda Today.
Kangaroo mother care is the practice of providing continuous skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, exclusive breastmilk feeding, and early discharge from hospital, said Dr Sayinzoga.