It is widely known that hypothermia is a leading cause of morbidity among newborns and that an effective low-cost solution is maternal warming of the infant through skin to skin contact. But what role does maternal body temperature play? A 2008 study examining community management techniques for neonatal care in Shivgarh, India showed unexpectedly that a significant number of mothers also suffer from hypothermia. Using the ThermoSpot temperature indicator, researchers discovered that in almost half (42%) of the cases of newborn hypothermia, mothers were even colder than their infants!
Imagine you are afflicted with a respiratory illness, and your doctor prescribes several medications. But you return home whose to walls are riddled with mold, inadequate funds to move and a landlord unwilling to fix this dangerous problem. What good will medicines do when the root cause of your illness is your living conditions? What if instead the physician actually wrote out a prescription and a well-trained staff member helped you get a referral to get your living conditions remedied?
The Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) is a three-year effort funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The group held a retreat to 'take stock of the field' of maternal health for three days in Tarrytown, NY. Unlike other end of project meetings, the meeting, called #MHBUZZ, asked five overarching questions about the field of maternal health and brought together 60 thinkers and activitists to tackle the questions. I was privileged to attend and hope that the incredible intensity of the discussion sparks ongoing discussion. One question brought forward and discussed by Wendy Graham is 'Do we really know what works?'.
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