I've received several emails and comments asking an important question regarding infant caps in Haiti - Given the warm climate in Haiti, is it really necessary for newborns to have infant caps?
I turned to the folks at Konbit Sante for this answer for all of us:
"This is a really reasonable question, because Haiti does have a tropical climate, but there is more at play here than the ambient temperature....What people also need to remember is that Haiti has the highest infant mortality rate (and maternal mortality rate) in the western hemisphere...by far. This is because the health and nutritional status of many (and in the poorer areas, most) mothers is very compromised during pregnancy, and therefore so is the health and nutrititional status of their babies. What our nurses have found is that the newborns, especially the premature and low-birth-weight babies are often very cold. A full-term healthy newborn has a store of fat which supplies sufficient calories to carry them for several days, and help them grow and thrive. Premature, and low-birth-weight babies don't have this. Even though it is warm in Haiti, the ambient temperature is usually less than the body temperature, and if these compromised babies have to use their calories to maintain body temperature, it is not going toward growth, and lessens their chances to survive and thrive. So in the context of an otherwise healthy population, the caps would not be so critical, but in the areas in which we are working, and for the newborns we have connections with, they are important.
Now obviously, the caps are not a panacea. They only assist with one small piece of the puzzle. This terrible situation is the result of the abject poverty in which many (most) women in Haiti live. They need adequate support in their lives and throughout their pregnancies, so that they have every opportunity to be healthy and have healthy children. They need economic opportunities, decent and accessible healthcare, access to education, etc... These caps will be used as part of safe birthing kits which are being provided to traditional birth attendants, who currently are the primary support to the majority of women who give birth at home. It helps improve the care they can render, and is also a way to strengthen a collaborative relationship with the Health Center, which improves referrals for women at high risk, etc... So it is part of a bigger picture and effort on the behalf of these women and their children, and there are certainly other types of support that would be helpful."
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And a reminder to those looking for other ways to contribute to this project, I'm hoping to roll out a Phase II soon with more crafting help we can offer. In the meantime, financial contributions to the work of Konbit Sante are always welcome and immediately helpful.
Thank you for your efforts, your enthusiasm and your crafting for this project!!!