Stephen Mpofu Correspondent
The kangaroo, an animal native to Australia, thousands of kilometres down under and away from Africa, has truly made the world a global village, so to speak, by coming to the rescue of pre-term babies.
The animal, which carries its young in a pouch on its belly as it hops away, is popular with many people, including Zimbabweans for embellishing the human lexicon with the terms kangaroo court, a pejorative reference to impromptu or ad-hoc illegal trials of offenders in society.
Now, however, the kangaroo has imparted to humanity something to smile about by teaching mothers how to save their pre-term babies from certain deaths, especially in an under-developed African continent where baby incubators as well as medical staff are in short supply, leading to high infant mortalities, according to medical sources both in Zimbabwe and in the developed world.
Kangaroo mother baby care is fast becoming the in-thing in saving the lives of pre-term babies in both the developed and developing nations of the world, medical experts confirm, and so it behoves on health authorities in Zimbabwe to popularise the method particularly in rural areas to save the lives of the new arrivals from needlessly being lost.
Clinical experts in both Zimbabwe and abroad say that under the kangaroo care method, a premature baby benefits from the mother’s temperature so that, the new-born does not die from cold at night while the mother is asleep, especially in a rural setup far removed from health centres.
Thirdly, the baby kept so close to the chest, is constantly breast fed by its mother, in addition to the mother-baby “bonding” that results from the kangaroo care method.
According to one clinical expert at a major referral hospital in Bulawayo this week, many pre-mature babies are “lost” particularly in homes situated in remote areas and where incubators at health facilities out there are a rarity, not to mention the scarcity of medical facilities themselves in the “periphery”, term previously used by colonial administrators to refer to the countryside.
Kangaroo mother baby care certainly fills the gap created by shortages of medical staff to keep an eye round the clock on babies in available incubators to ensure that the machines do not run out of heat or oxygen or that the babies do not choke on their vomit.
Traditional midwives — elderly women who have for centuries delivered babies out there in the villages — far from health centres, render an invaluable service on account of their long experience, but seriously lack the capacity to save lives where pre- term babies urgently need incubators, which may be unavailable, to save lives.
It therefore becomes imperative for the traditional wives out there in the villages to be initiated into the kangaroo mother baby care technique to deal with pre-term baby emergencies to prevent un-necessary loss of lives out there in the communal lands where the majority of Zimbabweans live.
That the countries in the developed world with the necessary staffing and medical equipment available applaud and are adopting the kangaroo mother baby care for pre-terms ought to be instructive to less developed or developing nations to embrace the animal baby care methodology as a matter of urgency to preserve the lives of prematurely born babies.
It may also be found necessary to encourage mothers of premature babies in urban centres where incubators are available at hospitals, to go for the kangaroo nursing method on account of the baby mother bonding in addition to other care derivatives.
A visit to a major hospital in any of Zimbabwe’s major cities will bring one face-to-face with kangaroo mothers and will no doubt be persuaded to promote the post-modern baby care method countrywide to give pre-terms a definite new lease of life and with that abundant joy to both mother and father.
Go Zimbabwe, go Africa, go global kangaroo mother baby care.