Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Groundbreaking Study Introduces A New Sustainable Way To Reduce Infant Mortality

A Pakistan-based study published recently in the Lancet shows that instead of relying on technological measure, simple counseling on maternal and infant care can largely reduce the infant mortality problem. Funded by the World Health Organization and Save the Children's Saving Newborn Lives Program, and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the study integrated counseling on newborn health practices into Pakistan's public health system in the rural district of Hala. More than 3 million infants die annually which is 40% of 8.1 million annual child deaths. But it has been estimated that, only in Pakistan, this simple measure could save 100,000 lives per year.

The research trial trained Pakistan's "lady health workers" in Hala to provide counseling on maternal and newborn health care, partnered with local birth attendants, and make home visits to teach simple newborn care methods. These include, early and exclusive breastfeeding, delayed bathing, and recognizing early signs of serious infant illness. Due to this trial, infant mortality and stillbirth dropped there by 15-20% in only 2 years. According to the scholars and trainers, this low-cost low-tech groundbreaking study can have a huge impact in other developing countries where people cannot afford expensive treatment. The study also shows that reducing infant mortality in this way is not only achievable but also sustainable.

-Nisha Noor