Staff at the South African branch of Medacs Healthcare are passionate about giving back to the poorer communities in South Africa, so when they were invited to attend the International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day event at Khayelitsha District Hospital, they jumped at the chance. Team Leader Melissa Cloete from our South Africa branch picks up the story.
"Khayelitsha Hospital was opened in April 2012 to serve the local community of Khayelitsha, one of the largest townships in the Western Cape with over one million inhabitants. As one of the preferred suppliers of nursing staff to the hospital, we were invited to attend their International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day event.
Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is a concept which includes the mother using a 'sling' to cradle their premature baby and is proven to reduce the amount of time infants would normally spend in an incubator.
This in turn leaves the incubator free to be allocated to a more critically ill neonate, and in general incubators are in short supply, so a quick turnover of patients means more infants survive.
Many young infants from poorer communities are admitted to hospital with pneumonia and other respiratory infections as a result of living in a cold, damp environment. Kangaroo Mother Care promises to reduce the risks of this common cause of infant death. There have also been numerous studies to show that infants, regardless of whether they are premature or not, are able to maintain their body temperature with the KMC method.
At the KMC unit at Khayelitsha Hospital, there are currently 20 neonates, all of whom are premature and require highly specialist care. Infants are only discharged from the unit once they reach a target weight of 1.8kg (3lb 15oz in old money), so you can imagine they are very, very small.
When we were at the unit there was a tiny baby who had been there for 67 days, so the process of gaining weight can be a lengthy one.
On the day of our visit, we took baby clothes with us to donate to the unit. Government Hospitals in South Africa really cater for the poor, and this includes mums who sometimes can’t afford clothes for their newborns.
We wanted to give something back and you could see that our small donation meant a lot to those the clothes were given to.
We thoroughly enjoyed the day and it inspired us to continue with our corporate social responsibility, with particular focus on children and education in South Africa."
If you could like to donate any baby clothes to Khayelitsha District Hospital, please contact Melissa Cloete at our South Africa branch.
You can learn more about KMC on the official website
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