The New Times (Kigali)

29 December 2011

Rwanda: MoH to Upgrade 'Kangaroo Mother-Care System'

In Kenya, as across Africa, the death rate of newborn babies is tragically high. But at Kenyatta General Hospital, here in the capital city of ... ( Resource: Kangaroo Care in Kenya

Plans are underway to increase the number of kangaroo mother-care facilities countrywide, after an assessment on the neo-natalogy services in all health facilities.

This was disclosed by the Maternal and Child Health Officer in the Ministry of Health (MoH), Dr Felix Sayinzoga, in an interview with The New Times this week.

Kangaroo mother-care is a technique whereby the mother places her newborn, usually premature, on her chest, between her breasts and ties a cloth around it.

Sayinzoga stated that Kangaroo Mother-Services in Rwanda started in 2008 and has been an effective tool in reducing premature deaths.

"There are 27 district hospitals currently using this system, 13 of which are well-equipped," he added.

Sayinzoga noted that neo-natal infant mortality rate is still high, at 54%, but this is likely to reduce with the improvement of neo-natalogy services which includes increase in the number of Kangaroo Mother-Care wards in health facilities.

He added that the method is cost effective since incubators are expensive and difficult to buy them for every hospital.

He added that they have so far trained Community Health Workers from eight districts on how the kangaroo method operates, recognizing the danger signs of the babies, checking weight and follow-up.

According to Caroline Ikiriza, the in-charge for Neonatology and a nurse at Muhima Hospital, stated that the Kangaroo mother-care system should be implemented in all health facilities that have maternity wards, since it's very vital for premature babies, especially those below 2.5 kilogrammes.

Ikiriza added that they mostly consider low weight when deciding when a baby needs to be in an incubator. The baby's health should however be in good health with good breathing, especially babies from the ICU.

The Kangaroo mothercare system helps to regulate the neonate's temperature more easily than an incubator.

It also provides ready access to nourishment and allows for readily accessible breastfeeding.

A mother who has used the system, who could only divulge her first name as Esperance, has been through this system for her 2nd born child and finds it very effective.

"I was a kangaroo mother for three weeks and I prefer it to the incubator. As a kangaroo mother, you bond with your child and can quickly tell in case of any danger signs. I could easily feed my daughter since she was always close and onto my chest," Esperance narrated.

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