In September this year the World Health Organization and UNICEF reported encouraging progress in reducing child deaths in developing countries. The successful efforts to improve child health and survival are working, and sub-Saharan African countries have shared in this success.
But the news is not all good. There has notbeen much progress in reducing the many childhood deaths that occur in the first month of a child’s life, which is called the neonatal period. Most neonatal deaths happen early, within the first few days of birth. The deaths are from infection or other preventable causes. Progress in the prevention of these deaths has been difficult because most newborn infants and their mothers have very little access to health care during the critical first days and weeks of the infant’s life.
How can we save the life of a newborn?
In poverty-stricken areas like rural Kenya the key to the problem of access to health care for newborns is to train localcommunity health workers (CHWs), who live and work in the villages and know the mothers and infants who need care. The CHW home visitation project that was started by Global Health Partnerships has trained a network of CHWs who now have the capability of saving the lives of newborn infants, who often die quickly if an infection is not detected and treated promptly. The CHWs have been visiting 60-70 newborns each month, and the death rate (mortality rate) for these infants during the critical neonatal period has been much lower than the mortality rate in other parts of Kenya.
Some generous donors have provided the initial funding to get this project started, but we need to raise more funds quickly if this life-saving project is to continue. It takes only $10 to provide all 3 home visits for a newborn during the critical first week of life.
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