“Khanda ndi Mphatso”: Sustaining and Expanding Activities to Shift Social Norms and Care Practices for Preterm and Low Birthweight Babies

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Malawi has one of the highest rates of preterm birth in the world at an estimated 10.5% of live births occurring before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy.1 A myriad of factors contribute to the high levels of preterm births and related deaths, including low socio-economic status, low literacy levels, delays in care-seeking for delivery, harmful cultural beliefs and norms, and poor quality of care.

To address this issue, the Malawi Ministry of Health (MOH), with support from Save the Children, developed Khanda ndi Mphatso (KnM), translated as “A Baby is a Gift”, a SBCC campaign intended to improve newborn health by shifting norms around the value of newborns and promoting Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) for preterm and low birthweight (PTB/LBW) babies.

The campaign was piloted in Machinga and Thyolo districts in 2016; a 2017 evaluation found that despite a short implementation period, the pilot showed strong results and clearly demonstrated added value of community-based activities, in particular for generating meaningful dialogue and supportive action at the community level. It concluded that replication of the campaign in other districts had potential to shift social norms around care for newborns.

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