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  • Baby Box Kwale: What has happened, where are we now and what’s next

This week, we are enrolling the first mums on the Baby Box project in Kwale. This project has been a labour of love for our team and we’ve learned a lot already from the baseline survey.

Why Kwale County?

Last year, our team compared data on maternal and child health in Kenya’s coastal region to determine the location of our next Baby Box project. We eventually settled on Kwale County as this was where we could have the greatest impact on maternal health. 70.7% of the population in Kwale live below the poverty line which contributes to other issues affecting women such as early pregnancies and low education levels. In Kwale, we will be able to build a strong working relationship with local health facilities and government officials to ensure pregnant women and new mums are receiving quality care and support.

What has happened so far this year?

After delays due to the pandemic, we finally kicked off the project earlier this year. In March, the team met with the Director of Health in Kwale and in May, we returned to meet with other county and sub-county officials. We also conducted a needs assessment with healthcare workers, the community health lead and women with children to better understand the needs of pregnant women and mothers. Some of the challenges we found include lack of awareness and knowledge of services offered as well as lack of essential items needed for mother and baby. In July, the team identified the three facilities we’ll be working in: Tiwi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Waa Dispensary and Matuga Dispensary.

The Baby Box baseline

In September, the team conducted an in-depth baseline survey to find out more about what the situation is like for families in Kwale before we provide them with a box. We interviewed 219 mothers in the 3 locations where we’ll be working in (Tiwi, Waa and Matuga).

Postnatal care (PNC) attendance

While 93.6% of mums said they had attended antenatal care (ANC), we found that only 26% are attending life-saving PNC. Since the Baby Box is used as an incentive to encourage women to attend PNC appointments, there is potential to make incredible improvements on this front.

Health information

Only 3.7% of mums said they were receiving health information about pregnancy and birth from Community Health Volunteers (CHVs). This is similar to what we found in the Nairobi pilot project, where only 1% of respondents said they received information from CHVs. We’ve already started training Community Health Assistants and nurses to support mums with antenatal and postnatal care, delivery, nutrition, and the use of the Baby Box.

Safe sleeping

We’ve found that there is a gap in knowledge about how to keep their babies safe while they sleep. While 98.2% of women interviewed said that they usually slept with the baby at night, only 38% said they had received information on how to put their babies to sleep safely. This is even lower than our Nairobi pilot baseline which found that 51% of women had received information on how to put their babies to sleep safely. Furthermore, only 19% of mothers said that their baby should be put to sleep on its back which is the recommended practice.

A vehicle for change

The baseline survey results reinforce the importance of the new Baby Box project in Kwale. We’ll be encouraging expectant mums to attend both antenatal and postnatal care, as well as providing life-saving information for babies and encouraging safe sleeping practices.

What’s next

We will be enrolling mums in the Baby Box programme where they will attend three sessions that will arm them with health information and encourage them to attend ANC and PNC appointments and deliver their babies in health facilities. Mums will then receive an antenatal pack comprising of a ‘leso’, maternity pads, cotton wool, a hat and a onesie for when they give birth. After attending their first PNC sessions, the mums will receive their Baby Box and all of its contents.

Is there anything different about the Baby Box from the pilot?

The actual Baby Box has not changed but we’re thrilled that mums will be receiving more with the box. This time round, we’re giving mums a leso, maternity pads, a mosquito net, cotton wool and slippers, as well as a onesie, baby hat, soap, napkins, liners, a reusable diaper and toiletries for their baby. This change is based on feedback we’ve received from mums as well as health workers within the communities on how the box can better support mums after they give birth.
We are incredibly grateful to each and every supporter who made this project possible by donating to our 2020 Team Mum appeal.

From Inner Wheel Clubs across the UK and Ireland, to Art4Change’s generous kickoff donation, and Sidharth Shah donating items for be included in the boxes, the widespread support for Baby Box Kwale is truly special. We can’t wait to share more updates with you as we continue to roll out the project. You can find out more about the Baby Box Kwale project here and our Baby Box Pilot in Nairobi here.

If you want to support work like this regularly to help us spark progress in global child health, you can give monthly here.


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