Kangaroo Babies

Today has been a wonderful and yet taxing day. We were on a field trip to health dispensaries in Mount Elgon which is the most mountainous and remote part of Bungoma County.

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During the stop at Mount Elgon Sub County hospital we got the chance to observe the KMC ( Kangaroo Mother Care) ward . In these remote regions there are not the incubators to assist premature babies hold onto life. I was privileged to see tiny babies of about 1kg literally clinging to their mothers for life. Save The Children (with financial help from GSK) have educated mothers with premature babies to provide an alternative form of care. Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is a method practised by parents and proven to help premature babies. It is based on the findings that 24 hour skin to skin contact with the mother or father greatly improves the life expectancy for premature babies. For more on this simple, yet life saving technique, see below article from Orange United……

“Susan Gitau from GSK Kenya visited a Kangaroo Mother Care project at Bungoma District Hospital paid for by GSK employee donations

“Your contribution really is making a difference. I know this because I recently had the opportunity to see how some of the money raised through Orange United is helping mothers and babies in Kenya.

The funds we raised last year as a global organisation through Orange United paid for the Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) programme to be rolled out in five health centres – Bungoma, Mt. Elgon, Chemtias, Siboti and Kopsiro. So far the programme has helped save the lives of more than 32 babies born prematurely.

Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is a method practised by parents and proven to help premature babies. It is based on the findings that 24 hour skin to skin contact with the mother or father greatly improves the life expectancy for premature babies.

I met Chausiku, from Mombasa, who had given birth to twins weighing 750g and 900g at Bungoma District Hospital on 1st December 2014. Unfortunately one of the twins died. Chausiku was devastated and also frightened for her other baby with such a low birth weight. The KMC team at Bungoma District Hospital led by Rosemary Mutota helped Chausiku. She was taught how to have the right skin to skin contact with her baby. During their stay at the hospital, the baby reached 1kg but then dropped again to 600gm. Rosemary was on hand to advise that this was quite normal. Her encouraging words and presence gave Chausiku strength to continue. After 1 month the baby gained weight to 1.2kg and two weeks later when the weight increased to 1.4kg Chausiku felt confident enough to continue with KMC at home. On her 1st visit to hospital from home, the baby was 1.65 kg and during the 2nd, 3rd and 4th visit, the baby’s weight had increased to 1.8kg, 2kg and 2.8kg respectively. I met Chausiku during her 4th visit and you should have seen her smile; it said it all.

At the KMC, Rosemary organises afternoon sessions for mothers who have premature babies and are distressed about the baby’s weight. During my visit there were about 6 mothers and one called Esther shared her experiences. She emphasised the importance of family support and hygiene to safeguard the child’s health. She was lucky to have an older daughter who assisted with the kangaroo care but she encouraged the mothers to attend training with their husbands. She told mothers that kangaroo didn’t stop them from doing their daily chores as the baby got to breastfeed and sleep while the mother managed her day. The only thing she advised them against was to fetch water in a well and asked them to get a neighbour or the husband to do it.

Bungoma District Hospital has trained more than 38 mothers on Kangaroo Mother Care since KMC was launched there in October 2014.

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