A Canadian non-profit organization announced Thursday they will be providing millions in funding for a Colombian program to improve children’s health in the country.
Grand Challenges Canada (GCC), which is funded by the Canadian government, announced the provision of $11.8 million in funding over the next two years to go towards 11 different projects, including a program to improve infant health in Colombia, reported Caracol Radio Thursday.
The “Kangaroo Mother Program” began under the Colombian non-profit organization “Kangaroo Foundation” and is one of 11 projects selected for funding by Canada under the GCC’s slogan “Save brains,” to assist child mental development.
According to Dr. Karlee Silver, the head of the GCC’s Maternal and Child Health Program, the project Kangaroo Mother “promotes the idea that (…) the best treatment for children born prematurely (…) is the direct contact of the babies’ skin with skin of the mother from the time of delivery.”
The kangaroo care method is an intervention that seeks to provide nutrition, warmth and bonding for the child. The grant will enable researchers from Colombia and Canada to look at the long-term impact of kangaroo care on children’s cognitive development.
A common alternative to kangaroo care for babies born prematurely is the use of incubators.
“We’re good at keeping prematurely born babies alive. But we’re not as good at taking care of their mental development,” said Dr. Peter Singer, CEO of GCC.
“The best way to keep a country poor is to rob its children of their full developmental potential,” Singer said. He also added, “the Saving Brains initiative is a bold and transformational approach to addressing the significant challenges facing the developing world. We are investing in improving conditions in the first 1,000 days of children’s lives so they can flourish.”
GCC is an independent, non-profit organization that focuses on global health issues.
The Kangaroo Foundation created the Kangaroo Mother method to reduce the risk of death, infection, hypothermia and hospital stays for premature babies. The program is the only Latin American project selected by the GCC. The other 10 programs funded by GCC, of which seven are from Asia and three from Africa, look to address maternal depression, nutritional improvement, and early treatment of infant malaria.
The Canadian non-profit said that every year there are two million infant deaths caused by premature births, 90% of which occur in developing countries.