MAITS' life-saving infant feeding programme supports high-risk babies to breastfeed. We are fundraising to run this in Zambia where the infant mortality is 40 per 1,000 births in 2018. Globally, complications for premature babies are the main cause of death in under 5's, (1 million deaths/year, roughly half occurring in sub-Saharan Africa.) Most premature babies will have difficulty breastfeeding. MAITS trainers & master trainers work directly with mothers & babies to establish breastfeeding.
15 million babies are born premature every year, many of whom may have an underlying disability. In developing countries, 50% of babies born at 32 weeks die due to lack of support, including support to breastfeed. Zambia's Eastern province, where we will train, has the country's highest infant mortality rate. Children with disabilities are up to 3 times more likely to be malnourished and twice as likely to die from malnutrition before the age of 5.
Our life-saving infant feeding programme uses low-cost, low-tech methods to teach healthcare providers to 1) support babies with feeding difficulties to breastfeed and 2) support weaning onto complementary food at 6 months. The programme reduces preventable malnutrition and infant deaths, increasing survival rates. After successful training in Sri Lanka, Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi, we have reached 28,520 mothers and babies. In the Rwandan clinics, mortality rates fell from 14%-11% in 5 months.
This sustainable programme will build the skills of 26 local healthcare professionals in neonatal units so they can provide breastfeeding & weaning support to mothers & babies. We will train local professionals to roll out training on an ongoing basis, supervised by MAITS' clinicians. This simple training will improve long-term outcomes, reducing the risk of malnutrition, stunting & wasting: early results showed that 60% of babies established breastfeeding within minutes, 100% within 2 weeks.