News / Africa

Better Maternal Care Reduces Newborn, Infant Mortality in Malalwi

Malawian women walk past empty grain silos in the capital Lilongwe, (File photo).
Malawian women walk past empty grain silos in the capital Lilongwe, (File photo).
Jessica Berman
A combination of strategies aimed at improving the quality of care for mothers in rural Malawi has dramatically reduced newborn mortality. Experts say it could be a model for similar programs in other countries with poor pre- and post-natal care.

The five-year program looked at the care of women and their newborns in the weeks immediately preceding and following birth in Malawi, a sub-Saharan country with one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world.  

The study was carried out in three rural communities, with a combined population of 2 million people. Investigators wanted to find out which of two interventions was more effective in reducing newborn and infant mortality - improving health care quality at birthing facilities or community involvement in helping the mother get the professional care she needed.

In the end, Tim Colbourn, a population expert at University College London, says employing the two interventions together was more effective than either strategy alone in saving newborn lives during the first month of life.

Colbourn, who analyzed the data, says investigators found a 30 percent reduction in neonatal mortality by the time the program was fully implemented, saving at least 1,000 newborn lives.

Speaking via Skype, Colbourn pointed to the importance of training workers at health clinics in the technique known as "kangaroo care."  In Western countries, he says, distressed newborns would be put in a climate-controlled incubator under the constant watch of medical personnel.

"But that's just simply not affordable and possible in some of these health facilities in Malawi.  So, instead, the mother takes the baby and places the baby on her chest and rocks the baby and keeps the baby warm constantly, which really helps improve the baby's survival," said Colbourn.

On the community care side, residents were taught to recognize when distressed mothers-to-be needed emergency medical care. Someone could then rush her to a clinic or health care facility in a “bicycle ambulance,” pedal carts that pull a padded wagon that allows pregnant women to rest in a reclining position, before she develops potentially lethal complications.

Colbourn says the World Health Organization and other NGOs are evaluating the Maikanda approach, which means “mother baby” in the native Chichawa language, in other low income countries.

“There’s already been a lot of work done on that in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, and we’ve analyzed the results from other trials my colleagues have been involved in.  And that’s been found to reduce neonatal and maternal mortality to quite a large extent," he said.

However, the Malawi trial did not show a significant reduction in maternal mortality.

The study was funded and carried out by the non-governmental Health Foundation with support by partners in the U.S. and Britain.

Researchers hope efforts like Maikanda will help other countries achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid