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29.01.2009 Health

Kangaroo Mother Care Project launched in Central Region

By gna

Kangaroo Mother Care initiative, an alternative method to cater for pre-mature and low birth weight babies has been launched at Apam in the Central Region.

The initiative, which is similar to the way mother kangaroos carry their babies in a pouch in front of their bodies, was initiated in Colombia in 1976.

The practice makes the baby to have easy access to the mother's breast, provide warmth through skin to skin contact for the baby, and increases bonding between mother and child.

In a welcoming address, Dr McDamien Dedzo, acting Regional Director of Health Services, said out of about 50,000 to 55,000 babies delivered at health facilities in a year in the region, between 2,500 and 2,750 were either premature or had low birth weights.

He said such babies needed incubators to survive, but since such facilities were not available at most of the health facilities, the Kangaroo Mother Care system would replace the incubators.

Dr Dedzo said with support from UNICEF, the Regional Directorate had trained midwives on the practice and had orientated Public and Community Health Nurses, to create awareness and supervise the practice.

Dr Gloria Quansah Asare, Director of the Family Health Division of the Ghana Health Service, said the Kangaroo Mother Care had come at an opportune time when the nation was striving to achieve the Millennium Development Goal four, which is reducing infant and child mortality; and goal five-improving maternal health.

She said both infant and maternal mortality rate in the country were on the high side and urged pregnant women to go to skilled personnel for delivery and also visit post-natal clinics within 72 hours of delivery.

Miss Joanne Greenfield, a representative of UNICEF said about four million babies died each year in the first 28 days of life.

She said 99 percent of such deaths occurred in developing countries with the largest in Africa.

Madam Joyce Aidoo, Gomoa West District Chief Executive said the new initiative would empower mothers to play an active role in the care of their infants, adding that, it would also boost their confidence in caring for the infant and enhance lactation.

She commended UNICEF for supporting all the 17 districts in the Region in the implementation of the Kangaroo Mother Care initiative.

Nana Ama Amissah III, Queenmother of Mankessim and President of the Central Regional Queenmothers' Association pledged to mobilize members of the Association to embark on education on the new initiative in their communities.