Over the last two years we have established Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) at both hospitals. Kangaroo mother care is a way of caring for low birth weight babies that was designed for use in hospitals with scarce resources. It is so good at helping babies grow that it is now part of the way we care for babies in UK neonatal units. Instead of using an incubator baby is kept warm by being secured to Mama’s chest, and as well as breastfeeding extra milk is given to baby by using a small cup. Every day the doctors and nurses check on the babies, weigh them, and look for signs of illness so they can act quickly before a baby becomes unwell. By helping in this way even babies as small as 2lbs grow strong enough to go home, and are followed up in paediatric clinic until they are 6 months old.
At Kivunge Hospital, an existing hospital ward was dedicated for kangaroo mother care, and over the last year with HIPZ support the staff have grown in confidence in caring for small babies. Babies are followed up in the paediatric clinic that was established by a HIPZ volunteer in 2016. One of the local doctors now leads the service at Kivunge and recently organised training and celebrations for world prematurity day. The difference that the new unit makes to Mamas and babies in the north of the island is best shown by some of our success stories.
One mother had her 6th baby at Kivunge hospital, she knew the birth was happening too early as all of her other babies had been premature. None had survived past the first few days. Her baby was just over 2lbs at birth and without kangaroo mother care unlikely to survive, but with the help of the Kivunge staff and the dedication and love of his mother this baby grew big enough to go home, and Mama was so proud to bring her son back to see us again in clinic.
In Makunduchi Hospital there was no space to provide a dedicated area for kangaroo mother care. At the moment the Mamas of small babies care for their babies on the postnatal ward, but it is cramped and uncomfortable, they find it very difficult to stay for the long period of time that is needed to support the baby.
In 2018 a new building was built for kangaroo mother care, it now needs furnishing and then it can be used for these mothers. There is enough space for them to be able to stay comfortably and keep them well while they care for their precious babies. We all look forward to finishing the unit soon. At Makunduchi, the HIPZ volunteers have worked hard to establish a paediatric clinic, so they can monitor the weight of these small babies and make sure they are staying healthy.