Project Lead(s): James Blanchard, Tahira Reza
A large proportion of newborns in Pakistan experience neonatal insults, such as birth asphyxia, sepsis and prematurity, leading to preventable deaths. The children that do survive are at greater risk of medium- to long-term neurological damage. This weighs substantially on families and causes an overall reduction in human capital within communities. In Pakistan, the majority of babies are born at home with the assistance of a traditional birth attendant, called Dai. These Dai’s often have little or no formal training, and are not prepared to identify and manage birth and neonatal complications.
That’s why these innovators are developing a low-cost and evidence-based toolkit aimed at improving brain development in a rural setting of Pakistan. The toolkit will include a safe delivery kit, nutritional supplementation and training. A new link worker would train birth attendants to identify children at risk, as well as on appropriate cord care, hypothermia management, aspiration, and bag and mask techniques. The link worker would also deliver a simple, home-based parenting program to teach parents how to provide stimuli for brain and cognitive development in children who have suffered neonatal insults.