In Nepal, one in 25 infants dies before his or her first birthday. Nearly two-thirds of babies are born at home, often in unhygienic conditions. Following generations of tradition, mothers rub oil, tumeric or even cow dung on the freshly cut umbilical stump for “healing.” Believing they are caring for their babies, they actually endanger their lives.
Many people thought that the only solution was heavy investment in high-tech hospital systems. But through a simple intervention - chlorhexidine cord cleansing - reduced the risk of newborn death by up to a third. With the support of USAID and its partner, JSI, researchers at Johns Hopkins University designed trials for the antiseptic chlorhexidine, a treatment for cut umbilical cords which cut infant mortality in Nepal by up to a third for pennies per dose.
Today, the 50,000-strong government health worker cadre known as Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHVs) is helping turn the tide, saving newborns from potentially life-threatening infections through the application of a simple intervention—chlorhexidine; efforts are currently underway to introduce chlorhexidine to 15 other countries.
|Location||Nepal, South Asia|