A person of this era that is armed with the current sophisticated technology may wonder how preterm babies survived the animal called death, before 1880s when the first electric baby incubator was invented in Europe.
There are things that our ancestors with or without formal knowledge did and saved a people in their generations through Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC).
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines KMC as care of preterm infants carried skin-to-skin with the mother. It is a powerful easy–to-use method to promote the health and wellbeing of infants born preterm as well as full-term.
According to the Kangaroo Mother Care Practical Guide by WHO, Kangaroo Mother Care was first developed in Bogota Colombia around 1970s in response to high death rates in preterm babies because of infections, respiratory problems and simply lack of care.
In the WHO’s online Kangaroo mother care practical guide, it is revealed that, almost two decades of implementation, research has made it clear that Kangaroo mother care is more than an alternative to incubator care.
It has been proven to be more effective for thermal control, weight gain, breastfeeding and bonding in all newborn infants, irrespective of setting, weight, gestational age and clinical conditions, among others.
My reader, this literally implies that the Kangaroo Mother Care can do better than what an electric incubator does. KMC is more imperative to both infants and parents.
While interviewing a mother of five children in Seeta Mukono district, on conditions of anonymity, said that, she is always significantly less stressed, confident, gains self-esteem and gets a feeling of fulfillment during KMC. Her husband who preferred anonymity too, said that the last time he did it, he felt relaxed, comfortable and contented.
“Of course I felt wow because I realized that even with my nature, I can do something positive for my child,” he said.
In 2022, WHO released new recommendations concerning the care of preterm infants urging the public to adopt simple and cheap interventions such as, Kangaroo Mother Care immediately after birth, breastfeeding, among others, in order to reduce on the death rate of preterm babies.
Although KMC is considered to be the cheapest solution to preterm deaths, it faces numerous challenges in many African countries, Uganda inclusive. The hindrances include low levels of awareness, lack of support, and too much domestic work for mothers, holding babies from in front being regarded as traditional, among others.
If fathers help mothers in some domestic work and give enough time to their families, and as well look beyond culture, then the shrinking mortality rate for Uganda will drop even more. In 2022, 40.564 deaths per 1000 lives were recorded, while this year, the mortality rate reduced to as low as 39.171.