Uganda To Set Up Kangaroo Mother Care Units In Public Facilities

By Our Reporter

The state minister for health, Mary Kaduchu reveals that Uganda is launching Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) this year as a key strategy for feasible and effective intervention for born too soon and small newborns.

Addressing a news conference ahead of the world premature day that falls on 17th November, Kaduchu confirms that all Regional Referral Hospitals, District Hospitals and Health Centers IV in Uganda will be supported to establish KMC linked to more advanced care for sick newborn to ensure the continuum of care.

Uganda is using the global partnership on KMC to accelerate in-country scale-up of KMC as part of a Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (RMNCH) sharpened plan implementation. Uganda aims at achieving a 50 percent increase in coverage of KMC by 2020 in line with the global target under Every Newborn Action Plan. We shall focus on advanced care for all newborns by establishing special care units in regional referral, district and health centre IVs. Oxygen plants have been established at all regional referral hospitals to support preterm babies when in the nurseries for critical care. The Ministry will strengthen human resource to provide the quality care for newborns especially the preterms.

Premature birth is one of the three leading cause of death in newborns worldwide. 15 million babies are born too soon around the world. Over 1 million new-borns die due to complications of premature birth, and many newborns who survive face a lifetime of disability.

In Uganda, newborn deaths contribute to 42 percent of death in children under 5 and prematurity is the leading cause of newborn deaths. In Uganda, approximately 108,000 children are born prematurely every year out of which 11,700 newborns die due to complications of prematurity. Up to 75 percent of these deaths in newborns are preventable with affordable solutions.

According to policy alternatives on maternal health care services in Uganda, it is recommended for expectant mothers to have at least four antenatal visits to health facilities so that a mother can receive information, care and support to prevent premature deaths. Therefore there is a strong need for pregnant mothers to attend all the required antenatal care visits, with the first visit starting in the first trimester.

The World Health Organization recommends Kangaroo Mother Care for the routine care of newborns weighing 2000 grams or less at birth. Kangaroo Mother Care is one of the low-cost interventions that save lives of small and born too soon babies. KMC promotes prolonged skin to skin contact of the newborn with mother, support early initiation of breastfeeding, bonding between mother and newborn and cognitive development of the newborn, thus leading to quick improvements in the health of newborns resulting in early discharge from hospital to allow excellent family-centered care for small newborns.

The partnership between families and health care providers is important to support KMC intervention for better health outcomes and experience of care for the born too soon and small newborns.

Barriers to KMC implementation include inadequate knowledge and skills for KMC, misperception of KMC as a “second-best” alternative to incubator care, cultural norms that make the practice of skin-to-skin care difficult, poor data availability for KMC practice, and inadequate policy and professional commitment to KMC.

National celebrations will take place in Arua district under the global theme, “Working together: Partnering with families in the care of small and sick newborns.” Ministry of Health, Uganda adapted this theme to promote the Family-centered care for small Newborns.’’

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