Figures released by the Ministry of Health (MOH); Kenya, 2015 indicate that of the 1.5 million live-births in Kenya annually, 188,000 are of babies born too soon (below 37 weeks).

Based on these statistics, one out of every eight children born in the country is premature. Kenya is among the top 15 out of 188 countries with the highest rate of premature babies worldwide. This is currently the leading cause of neonatal mortality (death of children below one month old) in the country.

In Kenya, about 14 thousand pre-term babies lose their lives due to various health complications. “These children have feeding problems, breathing difficulties and unstable body temperatures. They are also prone to infections due to their low immunity. So they can easily die,” said Dr Rachel Nyamai, Head of the Child Health Unit at the Ministry of Health. (Business Daily Africa)

For example, Kenya is ranked Number 15 amongst 18 countries that account for two thirds of all preterm births. 1 out of 8 babies in Kenya are born premature as per data collected in 2010. 193,000 premature babies were born in 2010. 14,700 is the number of preterm babies who die within their first month of life every year.(Data Dregder; Internews)

26 Preterms Babies die daily in Kenya!(Ministry of Health, Kenya,(2015).

805 is the number of under 5 deaths due to direct preterm birth complications every month

8303 is the number of preterm babies who die within their first month of life every year.

There is an acute shortage of incubators in public hospitals in Kenya and Africa at large. Since the inception of the Free Maternity Care Program, the number of preemies in the public hospitals has increased more resulting in sharing of incubators to the ration of 4:1. (Four babies in one incubator).  Ideally, there should be (1) one incubator per baby. This has sometimes led to very risky practices such as babies sharing incubators. Sharing incubators put newborns at risk of contracting new infections.

Babies are also forced to have very limited time in the incubator before they are fully stable because there is usually a long list of other newborns who need this precious apparatus.

The table below illustrates the number of incubators in public hospitals in Kenya in April 2013 in each hospital against the number of preterm births that needed incubators in that period. Although these figures represent data collected then, not much has changed since then.

Data collected in April 2013 by Internews Data Dredger

Kakamega Provincial Hospital 12 8
Nyanza General Hospital 10 16
Pumwani Maternity Hospital 123 14
Kenyatta National Hospital 100 8
Moi Referral Hospital 35 8
Nakuru Provincial Hospital 27 6
Nyeri Provincial Hospital 19 9
Embu Provincial Hospital 25 10
Garissa Provincial Hospital 8 5
Coast Provincial Hospital 45 9


*93 is the number of incubators at the National and Provincial Hospitals in Kenya

*404 is the number of preterm babies born in those facilities that needed incubators in April 2013

Causes of Newborn deaths in Kenya 2010

Age group Year Cause of Death No. of Deaths Percentage
0-27 days 2010 Prematurity       14652    34%
0-27 days 2010 Birth asphyxia and birth trauma       12199 29%
0-27 days 2010 Sepsis and other infectious conditions of the newborn         8685 20%
0-27 days 2010 Congenital Anomalies         2736 6%
0-27 days 2010 Acute lower respiratory infections         1815 4%
0-27 days 2010 Other causes       1572 4%


Quick look; Pretermset-v4-1 below;

Pretermset_v4-1 (1)




Statistics gotten from



Brenda S. Anyumba



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About Brenda S. Anyumba

Brenda is passionate about raising premature babies and finding solutions to save the increasing numbers of premature babies dying daily in Africa. She had a late preterm baby and an extremely preterm baby. Brenda is also keen on the training of children according to God's will. She reads on 'Kingdom Parenting' and practises the knowledge she learns on her boys and is blessed to share them with you too.