Nutrition International and Kangaroo Foundation Colombia collaborate on a Road Map to help countries scale up kangaroo mother care
On May 12th, Nutrition International and Kenya’s Ministry of Health (MoH) convened a meeting in Nairobi to present a draft of a Road Map for implementing and scaling up Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) within the country.
Posted on September 18, 2017
Nairobi, Kenya – On May 12th, Nutrition International and Kenya’s Ministry of Health (MoH) convened a meeting in Nairobi to present a draft of a Road Map for implementing and scaling up Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) within the country.
Kangaroo Mother Care consists of a life-saving intervention for preterm and low birth weight babies, which involves kangaroo nutrition (ideally exclusive breastfeeding), kangaroo position (early, continuous and prolonged skin-to-skin contact), and early discharge from the health facility with follow up.
In addition to saving lives, KMC is an excellent way to meet the many needs of preterm and low birth weight babies such as breastfeeding, warmth, protection from infections, safety, stimulation and love. Despite this strong and growing evidence however, few countries have successfully scaled up KMC.
Recognizing these gaps, and building on a long history of working to enhance women and children’s health and nutrition, Nutrition International began supporting KMC in 201# and quickly noticed that most guidance in this area is aimed at health facilities and there is little to guide a national effort to scale up. The country with the most extensive experience in this area is Colombia, so we approached the Kangaroo Foundation Colombia and began collaborating to create a KMC Road Map for implementing and scaling up KMC. The Road Map aims to guide planning and implementation of KMC at a national level, and help governments and partners prioritize investments in KMC according to the country’s needs.
The Road Map draws upon over 20 years of experience and will serve as a supportive tool to all countries interested in assessing the status of KMC in their own country and guiding efforts and investments in this area. We are using a dynamic approach that will provide countries in different stages of KMC implementation a clear pathway as to what is the next step. The Road Map will serve as a companion, offering guidance on how to best implement KMC from the highest level of care to the community level, therefore helping to ensure continuity of care.
-Dr. Julieta Villegas, Kangaroo Foundation Colombia’s Scientific Project Coordinator
An initial draft of the KMC Road Map was presented in Nairobi, Kenya on May 12, as Nutrition International and Kenya’s Ministry of Health (MoH) convened a meeting with Dr. Villegas and key stakeholders involved in KMC in Kenya. The main objectives of the meeting were to assess the status of KMC in Kenya, sensitize key stakeholders on KMC, and provide feedback on where to direct future efforts and investments in KMC, using the Road Map as a guide.
Twenty-six people participated in the meeting, including representatives from the MoH, donor and partner agencies including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), PATH and UNICEF, senior pediatricians and professors, and Nutrition International staff from the Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Senegal, HQ and Africa regional offices.
Meeting participants also had the chance to witness the impact of KMC firsthand while visiting the neonatal unit and the KMC ward of the Kenyatta National Hospital. Kenyan mothers told Nutrition International how important Kangaroo Mother Care is to them, and how much they appreciate spending time with their babies and sharing a strong physical contact with them. In fact, one mother affirmed that KMC makes her experience less stressful and allows her to feel more like a mom.
These experiences are reflective of the many benefits of KMC, beyond saving newborns lives. Research suggests KMC may improve maternal mental health, for example by reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Nutrition International will continue to work with Kangaroo Foundation Colombia to finalize and share the KMC Road Map, and use it to inform our own support to country programs, including in Kenya.
For more information, contact Kim Harding kharding@NUTRITIONINTL.ORG
Kangaroo Mother Care, (KMC)
Neonatal mortality, occurring in the first 28 days of life, accounts for almost half of the total deaths in children under five years of age. While the world has seen major progress in reducing child mortality in recent years, these gains have mainly been in children beyond the newborn period. As a consequence, the global share of under-five deaths occurring during the neonatal period is increasing.
Babies who are born small, either because they are born early (preterm) or their growth was limited, are at an even greater risk of death. Complications from the estimated 15 million annual preterm births is one of the leading direct cause of under-five deaths, or one million deaths each year, and is a contributing factor in an at least half of all newborn deaths.
Fortunately, many of these deaths are preventable through evidence-informed, low-cost interventions that can be delivered even in resource-limited areas. One example is kangaroo mother care (KMC), which is a life-saving intervention for preterm and low birth weight babies, which involves kangaroo nutrition (ideally exclusive breastfeeding), kangaroo position (early, continuous and prolonged skin-to-skin contact), and early discharge from the health facility with follow up.
KMC was developed in the 1970’s in Colombia as an alternative to conventional neonatal care, in response to insufficient resources and high neonatal morbidity and mortality.
A large body of research highlights the many benefits of KMC, and shows that it is equal or superior to others forms of care. A recent systematic review showed that KMC reduces the risk of death in low birth weight newborns by 40%, compared to conventional care