Resource centre that brings smiles to parents and children
Twenty-six year old Ketevan entered a primary health centre. As she walks through the dim-lit corridor, she is immediately surrounded by familiar faces of mothers and babies. She visits this resource centre for parents’ education almost every other day to learn new things about how to take care of her fourteen months old daughter, Ana.
Traditionally in Georgia, raising a small baby was left to the family, often solely to the mother. Resources were limited and families had to rely largely on their experience. Now they can receive support from trained health workers, community, and television.
In 2004, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health established four centres for parents’ education and trained 250 health workers in Georgia. In those centres, the health workers advice pregnant women and parents with small children about how to take good care of their babies and support children’s physical, emotional, cognitive, and social development. Education materials are available in package, and mothers also exchange ideas and experience among themselves.
Sometimes young mothers struggle with conventional beliefs and practices which were used by their parents and grandparents.
As a part of the initiative to promote better nursing, UNICEF also worked with a TV station to broadcast an interactive TV show. It became so popular among mothers and fathers of Georgia that the 40 minute programme was extended to 55 minutes which was still not enough to answer all the questions that poured in from all over the country.
"The TV show was very informative and useful. My friends and I learnt a lot. It is important that fathers and other family members also have chance to learn about baby care. The TV show had a big impact on people’s behaviour change” says Ketevan. The show also made an impact on the resource centre. According to Doctor Khatuna Peikrishvli, the head of the centre in Tbilisi, “After the TV show, the centre started getting more and more inquiries from parents.”
The project is making a difference. For Shoarena, a 35 year old mother of two children, the new knowledge on breastfeeding was an eye-opener. “I gave water to my older child when she should have been exclusively breastfed. Now I only give my milk to the younger child and I see the difference. He gets sick much less often.”
According to the evaluation survey conducted by the centre, parents’ practices for baby care improved by 10 per cent (using set indicators regarding delivery on term, type of delivery, breastfeeding, immunization, morbidity measured in 50 cases.)
The benefit of this centre is now widely recognized. The Government task force, with UNICEF support, is in the process of integrating early childhood as a nation-wide policy, and the Ministry of Health is standardizing monitoring indicators in the legal framework so that the family doctors will be able to monitor each child’s development in their respective community.