Absatou has had to endure far more in life than most 22-year-olds. Not only was she forced to flee her home in the Central African Republic because of fighting, but she has also faced the unimaginable tragedy of losing two babies, both born prematurely. But now that she’s holding her newborn baby girl in her arms, there is renewed hope.
It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to give birth in Gado refugee camp. In this remote region in eastern Cameroon, refugees like Absatou have access to health services, but facilities are limited and power outages recurrent. The lack of constant electricity and specialized care for premature babies puts them at a high risk of death in remote areas like this.
“I gave birth in the night, she was premature. She was born two months early… I thought I was going to lose her”
The baby weighed less than two kilograms and Absatou feared for the worst.
But this time, her baby’s life was saved because of a method called Kangaroo care, a simple form of neonatal care is inspired by how kangaroos care for their young. Wrapped next to the mother’s chest, the baby maintains a stable body temperature from the natural heat generated by the mother’s body.
“The midwife showed me how to use the Kangaroo method and to take care of my baby,” Absatou explains.
Help more babies survive is the priority
The method has transformed neonatal care in the area. With support from UNHCR and partners, 690 kangaroo kits have been distributed to six refugee camps in the area, and health workers have been trained on the method, to help more babies survive.
“We regularly lost babies due to hypothermia. But thanks to this method, despite the recurrent power outages, we can maintain babies at a constant temperature,” Monique Meka, a midwife at a nearby hospital, explains.
To learn more: 2020 Update and 2021 Plan
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on 14 December 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee issues. It strives to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to voluntarily return home when conditions are conducive for return, integrate locally or resettle to a third country. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1954 for its ground-breaking work in helping the refugees of Europe, and in 1981 for its worldwide assistance to refugees.