UNICEF Joins Hands with Medica Superspeciality Hospital to Promote ‘Kangaroo Care’ for Survival of Premature Babies

With the growing number of premature births, Experts from state health department, UNICEF and Medica Superspeciality Hospital are advocating for practising ‘Kangaroo Mother Care’ among the new mothers, fathers and family members for the growth and survival of such newborns.

On 2nd & 3rd August, a two day workshop was organised by Medica Superspeciality Hospital in collaboration with UNICEF to train nurses and doctors of private hospitals in Kangaroo Mother Care with the help of experts from IPGMER-SSKM Hospital, NRS Medical College.

More pre-term and underweight babies are being born now as a result of lifestyle change, late marriage, underage pregnancy, caesarean births and babies born using in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) method.

“Nearly one-third of the newborns now are born before full term of the pregnancy (preterm) and below the 2.5 kg birth weight. The burden of such babies is much more in the government hospitals as they are admitted here after IVF births in private nursing homes,” Dr AK Mallick, a member of state government’s ‘Task Force for Reduction of Maternal and Infant Mortality’, said on the sidelines of “Kangaroo Mother Care Workshop” here.

He said, “The state government’s policy is now to involve private hospitals and nursing homes, where 20 per cent of the institutional deliveries take place, to the evidence-based practices like Kangaroo Mother Care, skin-to-skin contact and exclusive breast-feeding till six months of the baby’s age. It will help reducing neo-natal mortality in the state.”

In West Bengal, the neo-natal mortality rate was 24 per thousand live births in 2011 and it has now come down to 14 per thousand births due to use of these interventions alongside medical care in government hospitals.

Dr Vandana Bhatia, Health Specialist of UNICEF, said that as soon as the baby is born, it is placed on the mother’s abdomen and the baby crawls to the mother’s breast and starts suckling. This is skin-to-skin contact.

“The low-birth weight (less than 2.5 kg) and pre-term (less than 37 weeks) babies are at the risk of hypothermia and need prolonged skin-to-skin contact. It was discovered at Bogota in Colombia that instead of putting the baby in an incubator, the same could be achieved through prolonged skin-to-skin contact on the mother’s chest like in a kangaroo’s pouch as it is the best warmer for the baby,” she said.

“It increases the bonding and reduces the stress between mother and the baby. The baby gets warmth, gets hungry and the early childhood development begins,” Dr Nicola Flynn, head of department of paediatrics at Medica Hospital said, adding that babies having birth weight as low as 700 grams are born in their hospital.

Kangaroo Mother Care, as an effective and no-cost method, is now being promoted in government-run and private hospitals in the state to protect the newborns and reduce infant mortality rate.