Embrace

Embrace's mission is to advance maternal and child health by delivering innovative solutions to the world's most vulnerable populations. We catalyze the creation of new products with strong potential to improve health outcomes in developing countries, distribute those products directly to the people who need them most, and integrate them into public health programs to have a deeper and more lasting impact on the communities we serve. Our primary goal is to help save the lives of low birth weight and premature infants by distributing an inexpensive and effective infant warmer in conjunction with educational programs that address the root causes of neonatal hypothermia.
Mar 8, 2013

Update from Kabul: Preventing Newborn Hypothermia

Mother and her healthy baby
Mother and her healthy baby

We are delighted to post our first report on the project, Preventing Newborn Hypothermia In Afghanistan.  We are grateful to those that have kick-started this project’s fund - thank you! 

In mid-February, Embrace met with the Afghan team in San Francisco, who will be training doctors, midwives, nurses and mothers in Kabul on how to use the warmers.  After the training, the team travelled to Afghanistan where they are currently doing further assessment on a number of hospitals to identify the best site to launch the program.  Our partner (in Aghanistan) is currently meeting with hospital administrators, doctors, and other key-stakeholders to introduce the Embrace program.  Additionally, the warmers have arrived in Kabul for our launch. We are also in the process of hiring a local site manager who will help with program implementation and training.  The site manager and our team will:

  • Raise awareness about the devastating impact of hypothermia in premature and low birth-weight babies, among healthcare staff, mothers, families and community members.
  • Provide on-going training and support on use of the Embrace infant warmer and Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) as critical interventions for neonatal hypothermia.
  • Collect monitoring and evaluation data to better understand the program’s impact on maternal and child health outcomes.
  • Provide complementary health education focused on addressing the root causes of low birth-weight, neonatal hypothermia and other maternal and child health issues, as relevant to the community.

We are so excited and hope you continue to be a part of our mission of giving all infants an equal chance for a healthy life.

Thank you for helping us spread the warmth!

Feb 5, 2013

Providing Warmth to Babies in Pune, India.

BSSK is a non-profit organization that provides welfare services to families and children in need, irrespective of caste, creed, community or religion. They are based in Pune, India. Their small neonatal nursery typically treats up to 10 babies at any given time, and while they have some radiant warmers to care for their premature and low birth weight babies, they do not have enough to accomodate all the babies. Embrace is excited to be partnering with BSSK, as we strive to provide all babies with an equal chance for a healthy life. BSSK is using the Embrace infant warmer to provide thermal care to babies that need thermal stabilization and support.

Baby Girija was hypothermic when she was first brought to BSSK. She was kept in the Embrace warmer until she was able to regulate her body temperature. She is now feeding regularly and is putting on weight. Thanks to Embrace and the dedicated care she is receiving through BSSK, baby Girija is thriving! 

Thank you so much for helping us to Spread the Warmth!

Nov 1, 2012

The Reflex That Can Change Tiny Lives

As any public health expert knows, change sometimes comes slowly, especially when it means changing our habitual way of doing things. From getting people to buckle their seatbelts every time they get into a car – to convincing us to exercise and cut back on high-cholesterol foods, we humans can be stubborn and do not easily change our ways, even when we know it is good for us and those we love.

On a recent trip to a partner Hospital in Gujarat India, I was able to see first hand the impact of a shift in the habitual working patterns of hospital staff to include use of the Embrace warmer.  The hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is often overcrowded with low birth weight babies needing special attention, and has a lack of adequate equipment to provide warmth to these smallest patients. Nurses and staff had become used to placing 2-3 babies on one radiant warmer at a time, risking cross-contamination of illnesses. Other babies would be simply wrapped in blankets and placed in non-functioning incubators, risking hypothermia.

When our Embrace Fellow introduced the Embrace warmer, therefore, nurses and doctors were delighted.  As an easy-to-use, safe and simple warming device that took up very little space, they saw it as a breakthrough in their ability to serve the low birth weight babies in their NICU and maternity wards.  Knowing that some mothers could now have their babies at their bedside in the maternity ward, as a means of better connecting and bonding with them was also seen as a great advantage over traditional warming devices. The opportunity to train mothers in the maternity ward in Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), or skin-to-skin contact for warmth through the Embrace training program was also welcomed and encouraged.

But in the weeks that followed the introduction of the Embrace program at the NICU, amidst the highly charged, pressured activity of a ward where staff is often stretched thin, we found that the Embrace Warmers were not always being used, despite an obvious need. Again, staff overwhelmed with responsibilities and activities were quickly and habitually placing low birth weight babies in overcrowded radiant warmers, or simply wrapping them in blankets.  They were not yet used to reaching for a safer, more effective Embrace option that would have significant impact on the lives of the babies they were caring for.

The solution?  Build the staffs’ reflex to ‘reach for Embrace’ when the baby was not being supported by KMC in the maternity wards with their mothers. For a few weeks, our Embrace Fellow, Poornima, followed up regularly with the NICU staff, encouraging them and guiding them to use the Embrace Warmer in the NICU.  Slowly, the nurses and midwives’ habit of placing babies in blankets or doubling them in other devices began to change.  With the help of hospital administrators and a close staff ally, Poornima set up an ‘Embrace Station’ in the NICU, acting as a visual reminder of the important role of Embrace at the hospital- and as a central place for a staff member to quickly and easily access an Embrace warmer when needed.  Each week throughout the ward, more babies could be seen wrapped carefully in the little blue sleeping bags of Embrace, sometimes two or three in a row, sleeping peacefully and in perfect warmth, again reminding staff of the new medical device option now available to transform the lives of the infants in their care.

Embrace now had a regular presence in the hospital, and the staff’s reflex to reach for Embrace as a means of supporting low birth weight babies in the Intensive Care Unit had been established. By August, staff were not only using Embrace as a habit—but were asking Poornima if it would be possible to access additional Embrace warmers to keep more babies warm during the approaching winter months.  Embrace will soon deliver a new shipment of warmers to this hospital, increasing its ability to keep low birth weight babies warm during the critical first few weeks of life. Change might come slowly, but at our partner hospitals, small changes in the reflex to reach for Embrace have significant impact on offering babies a better chance at new life.

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