In December, over 60 participants from eleven Latin American and Caribbean countries and the United States gathered in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to learn and share their experiences in Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), a highly effective, low-cost intervention for premature and low-birth weight babies. KMC reduces newborn mortality by simulating the warm environment of a “human incubator” through skin-to-skin contacts and promotes breastfeeding, which helps these babies gain critical weight. The meeting was led by the USAID Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) with support from USAID and the USAID Health Care Improvement Project (HCI). Doctors, nurses, MCHIP and HCI project advisors, and Ministry of Health and USAID officials exchanged valuable information on the design, implementation and evaluation of KMC programs.
Though some of these countries have had active KMC programs for many years, this meeting was the first opportunity for many of these doctors and nurses to talk with and learn from their counterparts in other countries. As these programs begin to grow and expand to new hospitals and communities, learning about others’ experiences and lessons learned can be invaluable. To continue this important dialogue, HCI is leading the development of a regional community of practice for Spanish speaking KMC program implementers. At the meeting, my colleague Jorge Hermida and I led a discussion on communities of practice, describing how a virtual community can be developed and support members. We then had a fascinating exchange where all participants identified what topics they wanted to learn more about as well as what they could share with others. Many of the participants were excited to realize that even though their project might be young, they still had valuable information to share with other countries.
The online component of the community will be hosted on HCI’s Spanish-language maternal and child health knowledge portal, http://www.maternoinfantil.org. The community will feature news, research, clinical tools, “ask-the-expert,” and discussion forums for users. Meeting participants were especially interested in continuing the conversation about a standardized set of program indicators and said they hoped to use the forum to offer each other support and advice as they continue their great work in KMC. The Kangaroo Foundation of Bogota, Colombia, will also launch a new website with support from the Colombian Ministry of Health and MCHIP, which will feature news and resources for KMC program implementers. These two online efforts will be linked and mutually reinforcing. We are excited to share the developments with the two sites with the Healthy Newborn Network.
Learn more about Kangaroo Mother Care:
- Read more about the meeting held last December
- Read about HCI’s experience implementing KMC programs in five Latin American countries (pdf)
Contact me for more information on the KMC community of practice.
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