Women volunteer to help mothers care for babies

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By PETER ESILA
AT least 130 women from Henganofi in Eastern Highlands are volunteering to provide care to
mothers and babies at a household level.
This was an attempt to help reduce close to 6000 neo-natal (first 28 days of life) deaths in the country every year.
Eastern Highlands Provincial Health Authority with the support of Henganofi health administration, non-government organisation Touch the Untouchables and United Nations Children Fund (Unicef) piloted implementation of Community Newborn Care with funding from Australia.
One of the women, a village health volunteer from Kafetina local level government, Sharon Toka Beso, told The National that they were willing to save the lives of babies and mothers despite there being no health facility, nurse or doctor nearby.
“Many mothers at the village, when they are pregnant, do not go to the hospital,” Beso said.
“That is why it is a problem.
“They do not know the ante-natal (before birth, during pregnancy).”
Beso said they received two weeks training from the Touch the Untouchable at Kompri in Kafetina, followed by two weeks practical at Goroka Base Hospital.
“We received training on
how to deliver a baby,” she said.
They also put a hypothermia (low body temperature) alerting device, locally named as Bebi Kol Kilok, on the baby’s wrist.
That sounded an alarm enabling the mother to do kangaroo mother care (KMC), which is skin-to-skin care to make the baby warm.
Unicef health specialist Dr Ghanashyam Sethy said hypothermia was a key killer of newborn babies.
“This intervention in itself will reduce the neonatal mortality by 41 per cent,” he said.
“That means every year in PNG, around 6000 newborns are dying.
“We can save around 2800 babies with this simple intervention,”
“So though we call KMC, this should be done by all member of the family, male member and all female members.
“The solution is readily available and this can be done anywhere.
“That is why this intervention is key for new-born survival.”

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