The future of each child starts at the moment of birth. Unfortunately, not all babies are born full-term and are therefore exposed to numerous complications which can arise as a result of spending less time in their mother’s womb than is considered ideal.
A preterm baby is any baby born before 37 completed weeks of gestation and in order to provide these infants with every possible opportunity to reach viable maturity, Sandvik Mining & Rock Solutions Central Africa recently donated a phototherapy unit and two incubators to the Kitwe Training Hospital in Zambia.
“The relationship between Sandvik Mining & Rock Solutions Central Africa and the hospital goes back over 11 years and has been characterised by identifying and investing in the needs of the patients and the hospital staff who treat them,” says Eduardo Alonso, Vice President of Sales for Sandvik Central Africa.
“We are passionate about corporate social investment and giving back to the communities in which our employees live. To this end, we are thrilled that we can make a difference in the lives of the premature babies born at the Kitwe Teaching Hospital through our donation of the phototherapy machine, the incubators and the other regular bequests,” says Annie Siwo, Wellness Coordinator at Sandvik Central Africa.
Dr Ditu, Acting Head of Paediatrics at Kitwe Teaching Hospital says: “Sandvik has made a huge difference to the paediatric unit with their generous donation of the phototherapy machine. This is an amazing piece of equipment that helps to mature babies born before their due date. It helps to reduce the possibility of jaundice in the babies and helps to prevent them developing cerebral palsy as a result of brain immaturity. In this way babies are given an opportunity for their brains to reach the level of maturity experienced in full-term babies.”
While the phototherapy unit is an excellent aid in assisting with jaundice control, the incubator mimics the womb in helping the baby to continue growing outside of the womb.
Not only will the equipment donated by Sandvik improve the chances for babies born prematurely to develop at a normal rate, but it will further help to reduce the amount of time that these babies would normally need to stay in hospital immediately after birth. “This is advantageous for three reasons,” says Siwo. “Firstly, preterm babies flourish in a home environment where they can interact with other family members. Secondly, by reducing the amount of time they spend in hospital it provides the opportunity for other pre-term babies to be treated in the hospital. Finally, the cost per patient is greatly reduced, since the expenses associated with prolonged stays in hospital are minimised.”
Prior to the donation of the incubators, hospital staff were forced to place four pre-term babies in an incubator meant for only two babies. “Since there was insufficient space for all the pre-term babies in the available incubators, the babies’ mothers were encouraged to practice Kangaroo care, whereby babies are placed on the mother’s chest to aid with supplying increased warmth. Unfortunately, this is not ideal as it poses a risk of increased infections in the vulnerable babies,” says Siwo.
In addition to the incubators and the phototherapy machine, Sandvik has consistently provided medical supplies, cleaning supplies for infection control, diapers and formula milk on a monthly basis to both the hospital and to families in need. “An example of this is the supply of diapers and milk to the Lombe family who were recently blessed with quadruplets. Other once-off donations are made when we see the need. For instance, during winter last year, we donated blankets to keep the babies warm,” says Siwo.
“Kitwe Teaching Hospital is in our community and our employees come from the community. Assisting facilities such as the hospital not only fosters community goodwill but is also an investment in the future leaders and employees of the community. Sandvik believes in protecting the future of potential employees and our community members through a strategic investment programme,” says Alonso.