Could Finnish-style baby boxes tackle infant mortality in Kenya?


Posted on
17th Nov 2017
by Cherio Onacha

Health projects programme design babies infant mortality baby boxes

Here in Kenya, one in every 26 children do not make it to their first birthday.

Childhood mortality in Kenya is an area where Child.org believe we have enormous potential for impact, and I'm excited to let you know that the team here have begun investigating one intervention in particular.

On 9th November, we held a programme development workshop together with the team from Toto Care Box to discuss baby boxes, and the potential for Child.org launching a new programme. We discussed how to select beneficiaries, the contents of the baby box and the best area to benefit from the intervention.  The team from Toto Care Box also shared valuable data with us which demonstrated that the baby boxes were effective in the communities that they've been working with so far.

Communities that are marginalised and living in poverty are particularly affected by infant mortality. The success of a baby box scheme in Finland indicates that a similar service could make a huge difference in these vulnerable communities. The box contains useful materials that help a mother look after her newborn, and the box itself acts as a baby bed! In many of these communities, families don't have a bed - or if they do have a bed, it is shared by the whole family. By providing new born babies with a secure place to sleep, it's clear that we can make babies much safer.

It's not just the contents of the baby box that can increase the survival rate of babies. They also act as a powerful incentive for mums to attend their ante natal check ups and deliver their baby in a health facility. New mums are presented with their box only after attending all four recommended health visits.

The team all felt that there would be particular benefit to working with adolescent girls and mothers affected by poverty and living in urban informal settlements ("slums"). A higher number of young adolescent mothers and high infant morbidity rates in these areas makes them the perfect places to run a progamme like this. 

It's early days for this programme, and our team have lots more to discuss and explore. When the  Child.org team examined the data, we also found that there was also a big gap with regards to nutrition and sanitation. We also want to explore opportunities to encourage attendance of post natal care.

The workshop was an inspiring day, and the Child.org team left very excited and enthusiastic about the prospects of the programme. Watch this space!

 

If you want to help us bring baby boxes to Nairobi, please donate now to help us launch this programme.