A scheme that saw infant mortality reduced by 54% in Uttar Pradesh is all set to be replicated in Africa. The Saksham project in Shivgarh district of UP will be initiated in African countries like Malawi, according to Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Foundation had invested $9.9 million in this project, which saw pregnant mothers and their in-laws educated against high-risk birth practices.
"In UP, we found that `kangaroo' caring and early breastfeeding reduced infant mortality by 54%. We will now spread these practices in Malawi," Melinda Gates confirmed. "We need cultural change. We found that in UP, most mothers delivered squatting. The babies therefore fell on the ground."
She added that other practices included washing the baby with soap instead of simply wiping it. ""We told women and their in-laws that simple practices like allowing the mother to hold her child close to her chest, breast-feeding from the first day and wiping not washing the newborn dramatically increased the baby's chances to live," Mrs Gates added.
Data shows that 9 million children die before the age of five worldwide with 25% coming from UP and Bihar.