Joyful Motherhood nurses identify vulnerable infants immediately after birth and provide these babies with home-based nursing care for at least one year. Because infant deaths (i.e. under one year of age) constitute such a large portion of child deaths in Malawi (roughly 2/3), by focusing on newborns we can significantly impact survival rates.
The admission criteria for our Baby Care Programme are:
Referrals of vulnerable newborns are mostly from the two main hospitals in Lilongwe, Kamuzu Central Hospital and Bwaila Hospital. Our Joyful Motherhood nurses establish contact with mothers or guardians of these newborns while they are still in the hospital. They then visit these infants regularly in their home communities for at least the first year of life.
We strongly believe that breast milk is the ideal food for babies under six months, but we use infant formula as we would any potent medication. It is lifesaving in the right situation, but must be used with care and supervision. Thus, Joyful Motherhood nurses not only provide formula, but also teach as well as monitor mothers’ and guardians’ ability to reconstitute it. They also advise on how to keep the feeding and storage utensils clean.
For breastfed infants, Joyful Motherhood nurses teach the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding and support mothers’ breast milk production by providing supplemental food packages to those with food instability.
During every visit, Joyful Motherhood nurses monitor the child’s health status, address the mother’s or guardian’s concerns, and assess the household environment. Joyful Motherhood nurses review vaccination records as well as record growth and weight. They encourage all family members to protect their own health status by seeking treatment for tuberculosis, malaria, and other communicable diseases. Furthermore, in the case of premature infants, they also teach Kangaroo care (Kangaroo care, or skin-to-skin care, is a technique practiced on newborn, usually preterm, infants wherein the infant is held, skin-to-skin, with an adult). If the child needs to be referred to a hospital, Joyful Motherhood nurses try to accompany it and serve as advocate during the care and treatment for the whole period of the hospitalization.
In the event of a child failing to develop sufficiently, Joyful Motherhood nurses follow a clear escalation model which can result in the child being transferred to an orphanage or to another caretaker.
After having discharged the baby from the programme, the Joyful Motherhood nurses will visit the child at least twice a year up to the age of two.