Kangaroo mothers

Despite my jaded aid worker/ development / policy wonk nature, every once in a while i read something that makes me go ‘gosh’. I came across a case study in a UNICEF Ghana report (disclosure: I’m working with Julie Pudlowski on a policy booklet for them) which really got me thinking that if development focused more on stories like this, and less on poverty porn marketing, we would be better off. 

“Awintirim weighed only 1.3 kilograms at birth, arriving six weeks prematurely. This is not unheard of in this central part of Ghana where early marriage, harmful practices, malnutrition, anaemia, malaria, and other parasites and infections, have an adverse effect on pregnancy and delivery. Underweight babies had to share incubators who malfunctioned most of the time. Now, all they need are their mothers. Awintirim spent the first two months of his life tied to his mother’s chest in a cloth ‘pouch’, just like a baby kangaroo. Snuggled against their mother’s skin, the babies’ body temperatures stabilise, their heart rates steady and they begin to breathe more easily. His mother, Lydia says that ‘When he was alone, he would start to shake and cry. But he becomes still as soon as I tie him to me and hold him. The heat of my body makes him feel like he is still in the womb’. The program also encourages exclusive breastfeeding which reduces the chances of becoming sick from contaminated water or breast milk substitutes. just as mother nature intended. Sometimes simple is best, and it saves lives. Before June 2008, 9 out of the 16 underweight babies born at the hospital died.  After the program started in June, all 12 babies born underweight lived”.

Have a nice weekend everyone!