- Do you think the options for low birth weight (LBW) such as kangaroo care and regular doctor visits have a positive impact on baby health or are there better options? Why or why not? How can these options vary from country to country?
I absolutely think that LBW options of treatment such as kangaroo care and regular doctor visits have an extremely positive impact on the baby’s health. In fact, in some developing countries, things like kangaroo care and other intimate mother/baby interactions like breastfeeding are some of the only options they have, and they are good ones. Plain and simply kangaroo care increases the bond between the mother and child and can increase feelings of safety, warmth, and comfort for the baby. Scientifically, it is proven that it can also regulate the baby’s heartbeat and temperature, improve their development and growth, and even help them sleep better (Hand to Hold 2016). Regular doctor visits are also a no-brainer when it comes to being beneficial to prematurely born babies. If it is accessible and makes sense financially, doctor visits should be taken advantage of whenever possible. Even if nothing is visibly wrong with the baby, sometimes complications go beneath the surface or are more visible to the doctor’s eye. Unfortunately, many people in developing countries don’t have access to affordable, safe, or even nearby doctors and medical care. Here in the United States, prenatal care and regular doctors visits throughout the entire pregnancy and birth process is very standard. In other developing countries like Africa, often times women don’t do anything to prepare for the baby and the entire birthing process is dangerous and scary for them, with little to no access to doctors, vitamins, medications, sterile environments, etc. When babies are born and classified as low birth weight, they face many challenges and complications ahead. Simple things like kangaroo care, breastfeeding, and routine doctors visits can be the difference between maternal death and a long and healthy life for both mother and baby.
- Take a look at the global health initiatives that were introduced today (Mamma SASHA, Baby Box, Living Goods). What are the strengths of these global health initiatives? What are the challenges they face?
I think these three global health initiatives are incredible and each have many strengths and challenges to them. Mamma SASHA is an initiative that addresses the problem of malnutrition in both mother and child during and after pregnancy. It provides women with “a voucher for orange-fleshed sweet potato vines that they can redeem from local farmers so they can grow their own nutritious sweet potatoes” (PATH 2016). Sweet potatoes can grow in almost any climate, including drought, which is very common in developing countries like Africa. The strengths of this initiative is the fact that they hand out these vines for free. Many women struggling with prenatal care have little to no money to pay for any treatment, so these free sweet potatoes are a blessing. It is easy to plant them because they grow very easily, and it is easy to “adhere to treatment” because all they have to do is plant and eat them once they’ve grown. This project allows mothers who are suffering from malnutrition to get the nutrients from healthy food and pass those nutrients onto their baby. The second initiative, Baby Box, is a Finnish company that provides mothers with a box for their newborn child that includes “clothes, blankets, and other newborn necessities, and the Baby Box itself–which is lined with a mattress–is used as the child’s first bed” (Baby Box Co. 2016). This free gift to mothers has decreased Finland’s infant mortality rate from 65 deaths for each 1,000 children born in 1938 to 3 deaths per 1,000 births in 2013. This is an astounding success story and it is also free to mothers! Anyone struggling with finances can vouch for how amazing it is to receive something like this free of charge once they give birth to their child. Post-natal complications are one of the leading causes of infant mortality and something like this that allows the mother to safely care for her child is amazing. The numbers alone prove what a success this initiative is, and I believe it should be implemented around the globe as well. Finally, Living Goods is another reproductive global initiative that provides women in developing countries with jobs to sell health related products at an extremely discounted price to families. They sell things such as “simple treatments for malaria and diarrhea, safe delivery kits, fortified foods, clean cook stoves, water filters, and solar lights” (Living Goods 2016). The big success of this initiative in my opinion is the combination of providing jobs for women who may not have any other means for work and providing families with live-saving medical supplies they might not be able to afford otherwise. It is a dual-purpose initiative that saves many lives each year and has reduced child mortality exponentially. The bulk of their focus is on childhood disease treatment, pregnancy and newborn check-ups, and medication distribution. The average cost of a treatment from a Living Goods Health Promoter is just about 50 cents, which is extremely affordable for many families suffering with money problems. All three of these initiatives are incredibly cost-friendly, effective, and easy to maintain and should be implemented in as many developing countries as possible.
- If you were given $100 million dollars, which reproductive health initiative would you fund -and why?
If I was given $100 million dollars I would choose to fund the Living Goods initiative. While all of the three above initiatives are incredible, I see Living Goods as a dual initiative that serves many amazing purposes. It allows people to make money and get jobs that they might not have had access to before by employing the people of the developing world to distribute the goods and services. This is fantastic and creates a livelihood and a sense of purpose for women who can and want to work. Also, the services they provide are excellent. Each year, millions of children die from preventable/treatable diseases but they just lack the access, funds, or availability of these treatments. Like stated earlier, the average cost of treatment from someone from Living Goods is around 50 cents. When a child is sick, that family will call someone from Living Goods and they will come diagnose and treat the child with high-quality care. Before Living Goods, often times that child would just die from this treatable illness and cause other children/family members to get sick as well. This initiative focuses on the main problems that threaten newborns and children every single day in developing countries: malaria, diarrheal diseases, malnutrition, and pneumonia. They have medications and treatment for all of these conditions, which is drastically reducing the number of deaths these countries are seeing each year. In addition to all the wonderful things this initiative is doing, they estimate that prices in nearby clinics fell almost 20% to try and compete with how cheap Living Goods is offering their services. This is beneficial to others as well. They state, “as a result, Living Goods is dramatically reducing child mortality for a yearly cost of less than $2 per person reached” (Living Goods 2016). You can’t argue that success and those numbers, and also the amount of lives being changed by providing people with a chance to earn a living. If I had the money to fund a project, it would go to Living Goods and all of the amazing things they are doing each day.
“PATH.” : Mama SASHA Project. Web. 01 June 2016.
“The Benefits of Kangaroo Care.” Hand to Hold. Web. 31 May 2016.
“Tradition – The Baby Box.” The Baby Box Co. Web. 01 June 2016.
“What We Do.” Living Goods. Web. 01 June 2016.