In Nepal, 10,400 babies die every year after being underweight at birth. Early, continuous skin-to-skin contact can massively improve their chances of survival. Thus, UNICEF supports implementing the approach known as “Kangaroo Mother Care” in underprivileged regions.
A baby that is born too early or is underweight at birth has an approximately 10-fold higher risk of mortality than a baby born after the 37th week of pregnancy if it has a healthy weight. Premature and underweight babies are more susceptible to complications such as hypothermia, respiratory distress syndrome and brain haemorrhages. Access to incubators and other treatment methods is often unavailable in Nepal.
UNICEF therefore supports the “Kangaroo Mother Care” approach that reduces the risk of health complications and the mortality of babies with a weight under 2,500 grams. “Kangaroo Mother Care” describes a method of early, continuous skin-to-skin contact with the mother, which especially helps premature or underweight babies to regulate their own body temperature and thereby strengthen their resistance against infections and diseases. Skin-to-skin contact is a simple, cheap alternative to expensive standard methods of treatment for premature babies, which are inaccessible to many parents.
In Nepal, “Kangaroo Mother Care” is already applied in a number of hospitals and healthcare centres, but not in most of the underprivileged provinces. Often, the healthcare personnel does not have important knowledge of the life-saving treatment for newborn babies or the required infrastructure.
UNICEF is planning the following measures:
- Establishing “Kangaroo Mother Care” units in three hospitals in three underprivileged provinces: these are special wards for newborn babies that provide mothers and their babies with the necessary care, encourage the “Kangaroo Mother Care” approach and monitor the babies’ development.
- Establishing “Kangaroo Mother Care” corners in 27 healthcare centres in the same three provinces: these are partitioned corners in maternity units where mothers (or fathers) can give the child the necessary body contact directly after birth. They are equipped with chairs or beds and materials such as hand sanitisers.
- Training and further education of healthcare personnel and helpers with respect to “Kangaroo Mother Care”, as well as improving quality standards in accordance with national guidelines
“Kangaroo Mother Care” can save the lives of premature and newly born babies. UNICEF is greatly committed to supporting this approach.
Picture: ©UNICEF/UNI259353/van Oorsouw
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