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The supplies in the enhanced newborn care kit help give babies a healthy start. Photo: PATH/Patrick McKern.

At the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting this week in New York, PATH announced the launch of an enhanced newborn care kit initiative to reduce newborn deaths in poor countries. Along with partners Save the Children and Johns Hopkins University, PATH hopes to improve two million newborn babies’ chances for safe birth over the next five years with the development and distribution of the enhanced kit.

Each year, about 57 million women worldwide give birth without the help of a trained health worker. These births often take place at home, where the risk of infection is high. Research in recent years suggests that many of the four million newborns who do not survive the first month of life could be saved with simple health interventions that reduce the chance of infection at birth and in the first weeks of life, keep a baby warm, and support exclusive breastfeeding.

The enhanced newborn care kit includes soap for washing hands, clean ties for tying the umbilical cord, a new razor blade for cutting the cord, a plastic sheet on which to deliver the baby, a knit cap to keep the baby warm, and other resources to support these critical interventions.

PATH has developed similar kits in Bangladesh, Egypt, and Nepal that provide a simple, high-impact solution for safe births. The enhanced kit improves upon existing kits by incorporating key messages in pictorial form to promote newborn care. The initiative would enable community health workers to reinforce these messages to pregnant mothers and their families.

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Posted September 24, 2008.