URC Plays Lead Role in Latin America and Caribbean Newborn Health Alliance Technical Meeting

URC Jointly Organizes Annual LAC Newborn Health Alliance Meeting

URC played a leading role in organizing and presenting at the bi-annual Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) Newborn Health Alliance Technical Meeting held in San Salvador, El Salvador, last month. URC staff contributed to the meeting's technical content through various presentations and launched the region's first-ever Communities of Practice on Kangaroo Mother Care, a method of care for low birth weight and premature infants that emphasizes skin-to-skin contact and exclusive breastfeeding.

URC's USAID Health Care Improvement Project (HCI) and its successor project, the USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project, are founding members of the Alliance. Both organized the meeting in collaboration with USAID, the Pan American Health Organization, and Save the Children, among other Alliance members. For a complete list of members, please visit the LAC Newborn Health Alliance website.

LAC Newborn Health Alliance Supports Regional Efforts to Improve Newborn Health

Though the infant mortality rate has been falling recently In the LAC region, its newborn death rate has remained almost unaffected over the last 10 years. While simple but effective strategies exist to address the causes of newborn death, policies and programs in the region still fail to provide proven interventions to save newborn lives. To address this gap, several international agencies and programs formed the alliance in 2005 to promote the region's newborn health. This interagency group promotes evidence-based policies and programmatic interventions at the health facility and community levels.

The alliance supports LAC countries in their efforts to reduce newborn morbidity and mortality by promoting the sharing of information and experiences at the local, national, and regional levels; supporting the dissemination of cost-effective, evidence-based interventions; providing technical support for the region; and advocating for the newborn and mother by actively participating in regional and international meetings and forums.

This technical meeting, held bi-annually, focused on priority interventions and programs for newborn health and covered the following topics: ways to expand the use of Kangaroo Mother Care; Community care of neonatal sepsis; quality pre-natal care; and Helping Babies Breathe, a global initiative led by the American Academy of Pediatrics to save lives and give a much better start to many babies who struggle to breathe at birth. It emphasizes skilled attendance at birth; assessment of every baby; temperature support; stimulation to breathe; and assisted ventilation as needed, all within "The Golden Minute" after birth.

URC Launches First-ever Communities of Practice on Kangaroo Mother Care in LAC Region

URC's ASSIST project launched a Communities of Practice about Kangaroo Mother Care by creating an online platform through which health providers could communicate as well as share challenges and best practices with other professionals dedicated to maternal and neonatal health. The group currently has 25 members working on Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) in several LAC countries and is hosted here.

URC Staff Present on KMC, Health Systems to Reduce Newborn Deaths, and Manage Knowledge and Improving the Quality of Newborn Health Care

Dr. Mario Chavez, Field Program Manager for the Essential Obstetric and Newborn Care Networks Project in Cotopaxi, Ecuador, shared on linking community and modern health systems to reduce maternal and newborn mortality in Cotopaxi, while three others—Drs. Jorge Hermida, URC Regional Director for Programs in the LAC Region; Gustavo Barrios, Deputy Chief of Party for Guatemala; and Roberto J. Espinoza from the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health—shared experiences on KMC in Ecuador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, respectively.

Dr. Hermida commented, "It was also great to see how the Kangaroo Care work initiated in El Salvador by HCI/URC has grown and progressed so much." He also presented on the value and dynamics of communities of practice as tools to manage knowledge and improve care quality.

URC Strives to Improve Newborn Health

URC partners with policy makers and national counterparts in several countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to assure a sustainable, wide-scale application of evidence-based, newborn health interventions as part of the reproductive, maternal, and child health continuum of care. This continuum includes integrated service delivery for mothers and children from pre-pregnancy to delivery, the immediate postnatal period, and childhood (see figure).

URC applies the science of improvement by changing systems and processes of care to enable reliable implementation of evidence-based interventions, thereby improving health outcomes. URC is an implementing partner of Helping Babies Breathe, a global initiative to reduce asphyxia-related newborn death by scaling up newborn resuscitation capacity in resource-limited countries.

URC also supports national capacities to expand essential newborn care and reduce newborn sepsis. URC is also helping decrease neonatal mortality by focusing on high-risk babies, such as those born early and/or with low birth weight. We have introduced and scaled up the application of KMC in Guatemala, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and other countries. For more information on URC's work in newborn health, please visit this page and read the MNCH technical brief.

Newborn Health in Social Media

To follow lively discussions on newborn health, follow these Twitter handles and hashtags:

August 13, 2013