A little more skin(-to-skin): Promoting infant survival with kangaroo mother care in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Dr. Karen Cowgill and Cynthia Howson, UW Tacoma
What would you do if you were a mom or a health care provider with a baby who’d been born too soon or too small and you knew you needed to keep the baby warm? In the US, babies born as early as 20 weeks can sometimes survive with intensive medical intervention, but in many countries, the lower limit of survival is 28 weeks’ gestation – and even then, the odds are poor. Kangaroo mother care is a proven technique to prevent infant hypothermia and promote breastfeeding and mother-infant bonding. It requires few resources, yet is not widely implemented in most countries around the world. In this talk, Karen and Cynthia will share preliminary results of dozens of interviews with new mothers, health care providers, and public health administrators from Lubumbashi, the second-largest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Come learn about the challenges they face, the creative solutions they devise, and brainstorm ways to increase implementation of solutions that work.
Cynthia Howson’s specialty is the political economy of development. Her research focuses on the role of regulation in people’s competition for resources in poor and emerging economies. Her specialty is mixed-method fieldwork, spending time with people and asking nosy questions to learn how they solve life’s big puzzles. Most of her work is focused on gender and rural labor in West Africa, so she was excited to take her research methods to a new region (DRC) and a new field (public health)! Cynthia is a lecturer in Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies at UW Tacoma.
Karen Cowgill is an epidemiologist with a fondness for infectious diseases, parasites, and babies. She spent 2014-15 teaching at the University of Lubumbashi School of Public Health and since then has worked on describing maternal and child health in and around Lubumbashi, and now Tacoma! She is an assistant professor at UW Tacoma and teaches in the Biomedical Sciences program.