The World Health Organization Tuesday launched the “First Embrace” campaign with simple steps to save newborns and prevent complications arising from unsafe and outdated neonatal practices in Vietnam.
The campaign highlights early essential newborn care, including actions and interventions to address the most common causes of newborn death and disease, such as prematurity, low birth weight and severe illnesses like pneumonia and diarrhea.
“We lose far too many newborn infants to preventable factors, such as disease,” Shin Young-soo, WHO’s regional director for the Western Pacific, said.
“First Embrace addresses this challenge by urging women and healthcare providers across Vietnam to take simple steps to protect babies during the crucial time immediately after birth.”
According to WHO, Vietnam has made great strides in the last two decades in reducing the number of children under five dying within the first month of life, reaching the UN Millennium Development Goals target of reducing child mortality.
However, in 2012 over 17,000 newborns still died within the first month of life.
WHO’s early essential newborn care stresses the importance of skin-to-skin contact between the mother and child shortly after birth.
This simple act transfers warmth, placental blood and protective bacteria, and encourages exclusive breastfeeding.
Skin-to-skin contact should be followed by proper clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord with sterile instruments.
Breastfeeding is then initiated naturally by feeding cues like drooling, tonguing, and biting the hand.
Early initiation of breastfeeding is especially important because colostrum, or “first milk”, contains essential nutrients, antibodies and immune cells.
Other routine steps like providing vitamin K, eye prophylaxis, and immunization; weighing; and a complete examination of the baby’s health, should be performed after the first breastfeeding, according to WHO.
WHO, with support from the Ministry of Health, is launching the First Embrace campaign in Vietnam at three hospitals this week: Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, The Obstetrics and Paediatrics Hospital in Da Nang, and the National Obstetrics and Gynaecology Hospital in Hanoi.