Raebareli District in Uttar Pradesh, India has an estimated infant mortality rate of 61 deaths per 1,000 live births. This is much higher than the national average of 47 deaths per 1,000 live births, and the state of Uttar Pradesh as a whole accounts for close to a quarter of all infant deaths in the country. Reports show that around 64% of these deaths are in neonates up to four weeks of age, indicating a need for increased neonatal health intervention immediately following childbirth.
Our Director of Programs, Jenafir House, along with our India Program Director, Pompa Debroy, and India Program Coordinator, Priyanka Choubey, visited several clinical facilities throughout the Raebareli District in early March. After an initial needs assessment, the Embrace team found a clear need for improved services around hypothermia management in the region due to a lack of human resources, adequate equipment, and current knowledge. Embrace is currently working with the Raebareli District Government to introduce our innovative infant warmer and complementary education program into five Primary Health Centers in the area. This program will allow us to reach at least 1250 infants and families in need within the first year, and the potential to impact even more lives as we work to establish a sustainable program.
Thank you for helping us Spread the Warmth to a new region in India!
BSSK is a non-profit organization that provides welfare services to families and children in need, irrespective of caste, creed, community or religion. They are based in Pune, India. Their small neonatal nursery typically treats up to 10 babies at any given time, and while they have some radiant warmers to care for their premature and low birth weight babies, they do not have enough to accomodate all the babies. Embrace is excited to be partnering with BSSK, as we strive to provide all babies with an equal chance for a healthy life. BSSK is using the Embrace infant warmer to provide thermal care to babies that need thermal stabilization and support.
Baby Girija was hypothermic when she was first brought to BSSK. She was kept in the Embrace warmer until she was able to regulate her body temperature. She is now feeding regularly and is putting on weight. Thanks to Embrace and the dedicated care she is receiving through BSSK, baby Girija is thriving!
Thank you so much for helping us to Spread the Warmth!
As any public health expert knows, change sometimes comes slowly, especially when it means changing our habitual way of doing things. From getting people to buckle their seatbelts every time they get into a car – to convincing us to exercise and cut back on high-cholesterol foods, we humans can be stubborn and do not easily change our ways, even when we know it is good for us and those we love.
On a recent trip to a partner Hospital in Gujarat India, I was able to see first hand the impact of a shift in the habitual working patterns of hospital staff to include use of the Embrace warmer. The hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is often overcrowded with low birth weight babies needing special attention, and has a lack of adequate equipment to provide warmth to these smallest patients. Nurses and staff had become used to placing 2-3 babies on one radiant warmer at a time, risking cross-contamination of illnesses. Other babies would be simply wrapped in blankets and placed in non-functioning incubators, risking hypothermia.
When our Embrace Fellow introduced the Embrace warmer, therefore, nurses and doctors were delighted. As an easy-to-use, safe and simple warming device that took up very little space, they saw it as a breakthrough in their ability to serve the low birth weight babies in their NICU and maternity wards. Knowing that some mothers could now have their babies at their bedside in the maternity ward, as a means of better connecting and bonding with them was also seen as a great advantage over traditional warming devices. The opportunity to train mothers in the maternity ward in Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), or skin-to-skin contact for warmth through the Embrace training program was also welcomed and encouraged.
But in the weeks that followed the introduction of the Embrace program at the NICU, amidst the highly charged, pressured activity of a ward where staff is often stretched thin, we found that the Embrace Warmers were not always being used, despite an obvious need. Again, staff overwhelmed with responsibilities and activities were quickly and habitually placing low birth weight babies in overcrowded radiant warmers, or simply wrapping them in blankets. They were not yet used to reaching for a safer, more effective Embrace option that would have significant impact on the lives of the babies they were caring for.
The solution? Build the staffs’ reflex to ‘reach for Embrace’ when the baby was not being supported by KMC in the maternity wards with their mothers. For a few weeks, our Embrace Fellow, Poornima, followed up regularly with the NICU staff, encouraging them and guiding them to use the Embrace Warmer in the NICU. Slowly, the nurses and midwives’ habit of placing babies in blankets or doubling them in other devices began to change. With the help of hospital administrators and a close staff ally, Poornima set up an ‘Embrace Station’ in the NICU, acting as a visual reminder of the important role of Embrace at the hospital- and as a central place for a staff member to quickly and easily access an Embrace warmer when needed. Each week throughout the ward, more babies could be seen wrapped carefully in the little blue sleeping bags of Embrace, sometimes two or three in a row, sleeping peacefully and in perfect warmth, again reminding staff of the new medical device option now available to transform the lives of the infants in their care.
Embrace now had a regular presence in the hospital, and the staff’s reflex to reach for Embrace as a means of supporting low birth weight babies in the Intensive Care Unit had been established. By August, staff were not only using Embrace as a habit—but were asking Poornima if it would be possible to access additional Embrace warmers to keep more babies warm during the approaching winter months. Embrace will soon deliver a new shipment of warmers to this hospital, increasing its ability to keep low birth weight babies warm during the critical first few weeks of life. Change might come slowly, but at our partner hospitals, small changes in the reflex to reach for Embrace have significant impact on offering babies a better chance at new life.
Kirthi is a beautiful young mother who lives in a village in south India. Her husband is a day laborer, who makes about $1 a day. The couple lives in a small house, where 12 other family members also reside. Several years ago, Kirthi gave birth to her first child. About a month and a half after bringing her newborn home, she noticed the baby wasn’t gaining weight. Kirthi finally decided to take her to the nearest clinic to see a doctor, but it was too late. The baby died shortly after they reached the clinic.
As Kirthi recounted her story, tears filled her eyes as she told us she still thinks about her baby every single day. About 5 months ago, Kirthi gave birth to her second child, a low birth weight infant weighing 3.7 pounds. The baby was kept in the Embrace Nest infant warmer for about a week.
We visited Kirthi recently, and her baby was doing very well; she had gained a significant amount of weight, and was a small bundle of joy. The family had nicknamed her “Chinnu,” before the official naming ceremony was to take place. Kirthi and her husband truly attributed the health of the baby to Embrace, and had gone back to the village and told their family members and neighbors about the product. Even Kirthi’s 100 year old grandmother knew about Embrace, and broke into a small dance of joy during our visit. It is a wonderful feeling to witness how our product is touching lives like these.
Please help us continue to spread the warmth.
With your amazing support and generosity, we have made great headway in our work over the past few months. We are thrilled to update you not only about our impact in India, but also across the globe.
In an effort to meet the demand all over the world, we are in the process of scaling up our global distribution and refining our program model. To this end, we have pilots being developed and implemented in India, Afghanistan, Guatemala, Uganda, Zambia, and Vietnam, with the potential to distribute enough infant warmers that will impact the lives of between 10,800 and 15,000 low birth-weight and premature infants.
Currently, we are working with seven organizations in India that are committed to serving vulnerable populations. One of our newest partnerships is with Snehalaya Hospital, in Karnataka, India. Led by Sister Gladys and her team of health care workers, the Snehalaya Hospital caters to under served peoples up to 60 kilometers away, and provides care at minimal cost to patients.
In March alone, the hospital delivered 260 babies- all supervised by one physician. Oftentimes, due to the high volume of patients, several babies share an incubator or radiant warmer, which endangers the infants by increasing the chance of cross-infection. Also, there is no electrical current in the hospital on Tuesdays, and the few incubators and radiant warmers that are available, are very costly to operate with a generator.
Despite the lack of resources, the hospital works tirelessly to provide the best care possible to its patients. To ensure that every child has clean clothes, the hospital provides each newborn a new sweater, hat, and blanket knitted by the Embroidery Unit in the hospital. The hospital also has provisions for every newborn to be placed in a crib alongside the mother. Now that the hospital is equipped with Embrace infant warmers, these tiny babies can receive the thermal support necessary for their survival, and remain in close contact with their mothers.
Other exciting news: GlobalGiving is hosting a Bonus Day on Wednesday, June 13, where they are offering $75,000 in matching funds. For every donation that Embrace receives that day, GlobalGiving will match it by 50%. Please help us take advantage of this opportunity!
We hope you continue to be a part of our mission; these babies will hopefully be able to thank you themselves one day!
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