As we have been doing since 2008, EFCNI and its friends, supporters, and partner organisations celebrated World Prematurity Day on 17 November and used the day to raise awareness for the issue of preterm birth and the challenges it poses for babies born too soon and their families.
This year’s theme was “Together for babies born too soon – Caring for the future”. It highlights that caring for preterm babies means, in fact, actively investing and empowering future generations. The motto reflects that these infants hold tremendous potential and deserve all our help and support to thrive.
At the same time, this year’s motto also stresses how important it is that everyone cooperates and collaborates when it comes to caring for babies born too soon. It is a mighty task that we can only accomplish if we work together. This means that hospitals need to have the appropriate resources, training, and equipment as well as staff levels to provide safe care to this vulnerable patient group. More importantly, right from the start, parents should be actively involved in all aspects of care of their newborns and seen as equal partners in the process. Working together for babies born too soon, then, requires good communication between all involved parties, mutual respect and understanding, and the realization that everyone is working towards the same goal – ensuring that preterm babies have a good future ahead of them.
COVID-19 and World Prematurity Day
Admittedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has made this year’s World Prematurity Day somewhat of a challenge. You can see that in the many pictures sent in from around the globe: people wear masks and keep a safe distance to one another; streets are empty; events had to be downscaled or cancelled altogether.
This is why we are extremely delighted to see that many partner organisations, hospitals, friends, and families adapted and still found ways to safely raise awareness to this important day. Across the globe, buildings and bridges were lit in purple, hospitals were decorated with sock lines and balloons, families in NICUs were given purple sweets and special gift boxes… The list goes on! Some talks and conferences were also moved online, allowing international groups of speakers to come together despite the pandemic and share their insights and knowledge. It is truly only because of everyone’s dedication and creativity that we managed to raise awareness despite the pandemic dominating the news in practically every country – so: Thank you!
“How it started – how it’s going”
One of the many ways we raised awareness for World Prematurity Day online was by taking up a recent social media trend and giving it a slight twist. The meme “How it started – how it’s going” had already been making the rounds on the internet for a few days because it allowed users to represent progress in a funny juxtaposition of two photos. The first photo usually showed how something started while the second picture captured how it continued or ended – often in an unexpected and sometimes even comical manner.
For World Prematurity Day, we decided to take up the challenge and use it to highlight the particular journey preterm babies have to undertake. Hence, we invited parents of preterm babies or adults born preterm to post a picture of the baby born too soon in the NICU and contrast it with a more recent one. Our goal was to make visible the long road to recovery and the challenges that need to be overcome. But these collages also express hope and gratitude to parents, families, healthcare professionals, and partner organisations for working on behalf of babies born too soon. They are comforting to look at, especially in these difficult times.
To date, there are over 300 posts on Instagram which tag our “How it started – how it’s going” challenge, and many more posts on Facebook. These posts are characterized by personal and intimate photos and heartfelt stories about what it means to have (or be) a baby born too soon. They highlight vividly why we need to work together for preterm babies and their families so that we can ensure that they receive all the support and care needed to let them thrive. Thank you to everyone who participated in the photo challenge!
Want to read more?
Have a look at our overview of this year’s inspiring activities around the globe.
Your World Prematurity Day event is missing on our website? Please send pictures or a short summary to email@example.com. You can also contact this email if you would like to join next year’s World Prematurity Day Coordinating Committee.
For more information about World Prematurity Day, please visit our page on World Prematurity Day