This is the VOA Special English Development Report.
mothers in Senegal are learning a new way to save the lives of babies born too
soon. The idea is not really new. It borrows from the way mother kangaroos
carry their young in front in a pouch. The joey -- what Australians call a baby
kangaroo -- stays in this built-in baby carrier until it can survive
Kangaroo mother care is
also known as the skin-to-skin method for premature babies. The direct contact
with the mother keeps the baby warm. It also lets the baby breastfeed at any time.
A movement to spread the use of the kangaroo
method for preterm babies grew out of Bogota, Colombia, in the nineteen
Now, a doctor in Senegal who specializes in newborn care is
leading a program financed by the Ministry of Health and UNICEF.
Every year, seven thousand babies are
born at the health center where Ousmane Ndiaye works in Guediaway, outside
Dakar. One in five is underweight. But Senegal has few incubators in which to keep
premature babies warm.
west and central Africa, one newborn in twenty dies. A major reason is
prematurity -- the death rates are among the highest in the world.
Doctor Ndiaye says babies who weigh less than two kilos
get special attention from midwives who assist with the births. They teach the mother
how to keep the baby wrapped to her chest. The health center has a Kangaroo
Clinic, a special area for teaching this method.
The mother's body heat is not the only thing that helps
the baby. Her heartbeat helps control the baby's breathing rate.
Ndiaye says there are plans to expand the program throughout Senegal. But he
believes the best way to get more people to use the kangaroo method is for
mothers like Koumba Gueye to tell others about it.
Koumba Gueye recently had her third
child, a boy. He arrived six weeks early. At first, she did not like carrying him
in front. People looked at her strangely. She was not carrying him on her back,
the traditional way. But after a few weeks, she says, the kangaroo method saved
her baby's life.
unlike a machine, the skin-to-skin contact provides two kinds of warmth -- physical
that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jerilyn Watson
with reporting by Fid Thompson in Dakar. The World Health Organization has a
guide to kangaroo mother care. For a link, go to voaspecialenglish.com. I'm