News / Health

Health Experts Attend Global Conference on Infant Mortality

Health Experts Attend Global Conference on Infant Mortalityi
X
April 18, 2013 1:56 PM
Three million newborns die each year, most of them in the developing world. Experts say most of these deaths are easily preventable, and have met at a conference in South Africa to develop a global plan to reverse this trend. More from VOA's Anita Powell in Johannesburg.
Three million newborns die each year, most of them in the developing world. Experts say most of these deaths are easily preventable.
Anita Powell
Three million newborns die each year, most of them in the developing world.  Experts say most of these deaths are easily preventable, and have met at the Global Newborn Health Conference in South Africa to develop a global plan to reverse this trend. 

When Kelvin was born, his 21-year-old mother said she had no clue how to care for an infant - let alone two, since Kelvin has an identical twin, Ken. It has not been easy, said their mother, Thokozani Mkandawire. But at a clinic in inner-city Johannesburg, health workers are teaching mothers like her how to care for and protect their infants.

Three million newborns die each year, most of them within their first week of life. Most deaths are caused by prematurity, infections or birth complications.

The biggest tragedy in that, experts say, is that most of those deaths can be easily prevented.

Medical and aid officials gathered in Johannesburg this week for the conference dedicated to developing strategies to save more newborns.

Dr. Gary Darmstadt of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation says there are several simple and inexpensive practices that could save the majority of these babies. "Things like exclusive breastfeeding.  Things like, skin-to-skin care, holding the baby close with the baby against your skin.  Mothers can do it, fathers can do it, aunts can do it, neighbors can do it," he explained. "It provides the baby warmth, cuts down on infections, stimulates breastfeeding.  Things as simple as washing your hands.”

Many mothers in South Africa already carry their babies on their bodies.

Mary Kinney of Save the Children practices a similar technique, called Kangaroo Mother Care, with 10-week-old Reuben. “Kangaroo Mother Care puts the [baby coos] baby and mother skin-to-skin, so he wouldn’t be wearing his little jersey and I wouldn’t be wearing a top.  And it provides thermal care, so it provides warmth for him and it also promotes exclusive breastfeeding for nutritional purposes.  And it also makes me more aware of my baby," she stated. "So I can identify early signs of infection to seek care, and in fact it reduces mortality for preterm babies by 50 percent.  So it’s proven better than incubator care for preterm babies.”

Experts who attended the conference from more than 50 countries are hoping their recommendations will see infants safely into childhood.  

It’s a huge task, and involves many sectors of government, not just health. But the effort will help millions of children to grow and flourish.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs