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Opinions: Kangaroo Care; NTDs, Women’s Health

Kangaroo Care Could Help Mothers In Poor Settings To Save Their Babies

New York Times contributing writer Tina Rosen, on the newspaper’s “Opinionator” blog, examines the success of a system known as kangaroo care, which has helped to improve the survival rates of premature infants by using skin-to-skin contact with mothers in place of incubators in low-resource settings. The post notes the potential value of such a strategy in poor countries “where pregnant women are unlikely to get the food and care they need,” and “low birth weight babies are very common.”

Of the Colombian doctor credited with creating the strategy, Rosen writes, “[Edgar] Rey took a challenge that most people would assume requires more money, personnel and technology and solved it in a way that requires less of all three. … And because it is powered by the human body alone, it is theoretically available to hundreds of millions of mothers … But theoretical availability is only helpful for theoretical babies. Another of kangaroo care’s important innovations is that its inventors realized that ideas don’t travel by themselves. They established a way to get the practice from Bogota [where the system originated] into hospitals and clinics all over the world – something that takes a lot more creativity and work than it sounds” (12/13).

Controlling, Eliminating NTDs ‘Surest Way To Maximize Impact Of Global Strategy’ For Women, Girls

“Some of the world’s most glaring health problems affecting impoverished girls and women are also some of the easiest to address. The fact that we consistently fail to do so is puzzling,” Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece that examines the toll of neglected tropical diseases on women in developing countries and the inexpensive therapies available to treat them. “Today, it is possible to deliver medicines for the most common neglected tropical diseases – including not just hookworm and schistosomiasis but elephantiasis, river blindness and trachoma – with just one annual dose. Success in combating the diseases can be achieved for less than $1 a patient annually,” Hotez writes.

Although “there are finally some signs of hope” in efforts to fight neglected tropical diseases, Hotez writes, “we are still falling short. “The U.N. summit gave short shrift to funding neglected tropical diseases, which would dramatically improve pregnancy outcomes and child health, and at a tiny fraction of the cost of many of the things being proposed by the Global Strategy [for Women’s and Children’s Health].” He concludes, “Controlling and eliminating neglected tropical diseases is one of the most effective and cost-efficient humanitarian interventions available today. It is also the surest way to maximize the impact of the new Global Strategy to address the plight of girls and women” (12/12).

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