Since 2001, Malawi has achieved a 29 percent decline in newborn deaths—from 19,000 per year to 17,000 per year in 2010. In those 10 years, Save the Children, with the support of its many donors, has made significant contributions toward this achievement.Teaching Others How to Save a LifeSave the Children and partners have trained and supported over 1,700 frontline health workers—often people with little formal education but who are respected in their communities. These health workers counsel mothers, detect life-threatening conditions in newborns and refer them to health facilities when necessary. Today, frontline health workers deliver community-based maternal and newborn care in nearly two-thirds of Malawi’s districts.Caring for a New BabyLocal customs can sometimes be at odds with what is best for baby and mother, which is why Save the Children promotes and teaches essential newborn care. It starts with prenatal care and includes checkups for newborns in the first two days after birth, when most newborns are at greatest risk. Frontline health workers also educate mothers and caregivers in how to care for their newborns. Today, essential newborn care provides the foundation for Save the Children’s newborn health programs in 18 countries.Saving Babies Born Too Early or Too Small“Kangaroo Mother Care” is the whimsical name for an effective way to care for low birth weight and preterm babies. Wrapping a baby skin-to-skin against its mother’s chest (like a kangaroo’s pouch), keeps it warm, encourages breastfeeding and bonding, and prevents infections. Save the Children has promoted Kangaroo Mother Care in Malawi since 2002, and today more than 100 health facilities use this approach. We are working with the government of Malawi to take this practice nationwide.Additional funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is allowingSave the Children to analyze results and lessons learned from Malawi’s decade-long program and continue to promote newborn health around the world.
Melinda Gates in MalawiIn 2010, Melinda Gates visited a district hospital supported by Save the Children in Dowa, Malawi, where Save the Children has trained frontline health workers. Here is a brief excerpt of her assessment of that visit.
“I also visited one of the cities there, Dowa, where the women are going into the facilities just as the government has told them. In fact, the women are going up to four weeks ahead of the birth of their baby. That’s really important because they are then avoiding birth complications that might happen to them out in the village or on the road. I met about 40 women who were waiting at the Dowa district hospital, and it was so interesting to talk to these women. They are such palpable evidence of the real impact these changes are having. And I literally saw mothers and babies that would not be alive today if it weren’t for the improvements that Malawi has been making in these areas.”
Listen to Melinda Gates’ complete impressions of her visit to Malawi atwww.gatesfoundation.org/videos.
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