Mounira is barely 40 centimeters tall. Mouth open, cheek flat against her mother’s chest, this baby born almost two months prematurely is growing thanks to the “kangaroo” method, increasingly used around hospitals in Côte d’Ivoire. Her mom Affousata Sidibé is happy with the results of this method.
“I’m leaving today. Anyway, I’m happy, very happy. I did a month here with my baby. She was small. She was born at 800 grams. Today she is nearly 2 kilos. So, I’m very happy.”
Recommended by the World Health Organisation, this “skin-to-skin method” puts “the mother at the centre of her child’s care”, according to Dr. Chantière Somé, of the Treichville University Hospital in Abidjan.
“With the kangaroo method, he sleeps longer so the brain develops better, there is less stressed so the child is calmer, more sociable. While children who are incubated, some at least become stressed, so their brain is constantly excited, the child will grown into an adult who will not always be sociable and always stressed. That’s truly one of the main benefits of kangaroo care,” she adds.
One third of newborn deaths in the west african country are due to prematurity. According to Virginie Konan, UNICEF health specialist, this “kangaroo” method has made a major contribution to reducing it.
“More than 36% of newborn deaths are due to prematurity. So, if we want to change the newborn mortality rate, we need to address this primary cause.”
Eight hospitals in the country have a “Kangouroo Medical Service”, but the Treichville hospital, the largest in the country, is the best equipped.
In light of these results, other countries in the region are beginning to replicate the inexpensive method. Senegal, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso are beginning to apply the procedure, but so far Côte d’Ivoire has the most developed services.