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Bebi Kol Kilok saving lives in PNG

© UNICEF/PNG/2017/Estey
New born twins with the Bebi Kol Kilok

Close to half of 6,000 newborns who die every year in Papua New Guinea from preventable causes can be saved with early detection and management of hypothermia (low body temperature). This is a condition in which the body temperature drops below normal range. 

Newborns, particularly low birth weight babies, are prone to hypothermia, which slows down the functions of vital organs such as the brain, heart and kidney and eventually shuts down if the temperature remains low for extended periods of time.

“Often it is difficult for parents or caregivers to know that the baby’s temperature has dropped, and unfortunately this can have serious consequences on the survival of the baby. However, once detected, the simplest and most cost-effective way to address hypothermia is skin to skin contact, which is also known as Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC),” says UNICEF Health Specialist, Dr. Sethy Ghanashyam. Kangaroo Mother Care is an intervention that uses skin-to-skin contact—a parent’s or caregiver’s own body—to warm and nurture the child for optimal growt

A tiny bracelet, locally dubbed the Bebi Kol Kilok, that is being piloted in Papua New Guinea by UNICEF, the Government and WHO, is helping health workers, parents and caregivers to manage hypothermia in newborn babies. 

The Bebi Kol Kilok is a simple innovative device that, when placed on the wrist of new born babies, can detect a drop in temperature and alerts parents and caregivers by producing a beeping sound and flashing an orange light. This warning prompts parents to initiate Kangaroo Mother Care to keep the baby warm. Without this device, it is difficult for parents or caregivers to know if the baby’s temperature has dropped.

The Bebi Kol Kilok is gaining popularity in PNG for its ability to prompt parents and caregivers into initiating KMC and Breastfeeding as soon as a drop in temperature is detected. 

Interestingly, about 43 per cent of males have been involved in the care of the newborn babies through this program which is unknown in this part of the country where most men regard the care of a baby as the responsibility of a mother or women.

To date, two health facilities who piloted this device with 448 babies reported a decrease of incidences of hypothermia by 11.4 per cent.






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