This week we would like to tell you about one of the babies in the Kangaroo Mother Care ward. She was born early at only 1.1kg and initially lost some weight, so at one point was only 915 grams (about 2 lbs). Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is a simple method of caring for small babies by keeping them skin to skin with mum, encouraging breastfeeding, weighing them daily and looking for any problems (danger signs).
This baby was admitted a few weeks ago and has been growing well. Last week she had reached over 1.3 kg but started to show signs of an infection. The local nurse and doctor recognised that she was working hard to breathe and gave her some oxygen to help. They also started antibiotics in case it was a bacterial infection. Then when the HIPZ volunteers arrived on shift to review the patient, we were able to advise on the best way to support the baby and mother so that she could fight the infection. This included changing the antibiotics and showing the local staff exactly which danger signs to look out for.
These simple things helped the baby improve and she is now feeling much better. This week she has made it to 1.5kg and she will hopefully be able to go home soon. Her mum has really adopted the Kangaroo care method and has been a great teacher for the other mamas.This was a great example of how we can work together with the local hospital staff to improve the care of small babies.
Kangaroo Mother Care has been shown to reduce mortality for these small babies by up to 50%. HIPZ has supported Kivunge Hospital to make a separate ward for KMC, provided teaching and guidelines to the local staff and helped buy the equipment needed. We are also building a special KMC building at Makunduchi Hospital along with our partners at ZIDO and the Ministry of Health. For the last 8 months HIPZ support has enabled a neonatal specialist doctor and nurse to work with both hospitals, teaching and encouraging the staff and mamas. We have been able to show them that even for small babies the right care can enable them to grow and thrive. We recently had some of our first patients (twins who were both 1 kg) graduate from the follow up clinic weighing over 4kg.
We still have challenges ensuring that all small babies are recognised at birth and referred. Also that the babies are reviewed every day even when the hospital is busy. However the story of our current little KMC girl shows how far we have come and shows how effective this relatively simple intervention can be for our smallest patients.