Academies and Kangaroo Mother Care

Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is broadly defined as the early, continuous and prolonged skin-to-skin contact and exclusive breast feeding for new-born children, especially those born pre-term or with low birth weight.

While the technique was developed during the 1970s, the first conference of the International Network in Kangaroo Mother Care (INKMC) took place in Trieste, Italy, in 1996.

Discussions at this event concluded that KMC is well accepted by mothers and healthcare personnel and can reduce the cost of hospital care for newborns with low birth weight. There was also consistency in the results across different locations where the studies had been conducted, including institutions and countries with different levels of social, economic and technological development.

In 2017, INKMC celebrated 20 years of activities and progress by returning to Trieste to host a workshop and congress on KMC.

As the headquarters of IAP for Health are based in Trieste, and given the organization’s ongoing interest in improving neonatal and maternal health, the IAP for Health co-chairs agreed to assist some academy delegates to attend the events.

Three such experts were nominated by their national academies: Anne-Marie Bergh from the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), and Fay de Campo and Aurora Libadia from the National Academy of Science and Technology, the Philippines (NAST). While their host academies covered airfare costs, IAP for Health contributed to their accommodation and other expenses while in Trieste.

Bergh, in particular, has been engaged with the global KMC community for a number of years. She gave these impressions of the Trieste meetings:

“Having attended the biannual International KMC Workshop and Conference since 2002, I found the change in focus over the years interesting. Initially, the focus was much more on KMC practice and evidence from individual healthcare facilities or a group of facilities on aspects related to clinical effectiveness and safety or the acceptability of KMC among healthcare providers or parents.

“Over time, delegates from more and more countries across the world attended the event. Since 2013, with a call for the acceleration of KMC implementation globally, the focus has become more health-systems-oriented, with an emphasis on the implementation and scale-up of facility-based KMC services in a geographic region or country.”