Improving babies’ chances of survival
SolidarMed has been supporting needy families in the four districts of Zimbabwe by financing and purchasing formula milk for the first six months to increase the survival chances of babies without mothers.
Breastfeeding offers many health benefits for mother and child. Not only is breastmilk easier for babies to digest and ideally tailored to their nutritional needs, it also contains antibodies so it can protect against many illnesses and ensure survival. In Zimbabwe, around 365 women per 100,000 births still die. Most deaths occur in the first week after birth and can be directly attributed to complications of pregnancy and delivery. Globally, children of mothers who die in childbirth or within the first week have only a 50 % chance of reaching their first birthday. The lack of maternal breastmilk is a crucial factor.
To increase chances of survival, Zimbabwe also officially recommends baby formula for the first six months for infants who have lost their mothers. But many families cannot afford formula and switch instead to cow’s or sheep’s milk, which is harmful to babies’ health. As animal milk contains proteins that infants cannot yet digest, it can cause deficiencies, stunted growth and developmental delays. As a result, many babies die prematurely.
Since 2017, SolidarMed has been supporting needy families in the four districts of Bikita, Zaka, Masvingo and Chiredzi by financing and purchasing formula milk for the first six months to increase the survival chances of babies without mothers. Another objective of the project is early diagnosis of HIV-positive infants and referral for treatment. It also ensures that maternal deaths are registered. The protection of mothers, children and newborns remains one of SolidarMed’s key health concerns for rural populations in Africa.
Empowering young women
A SolidarMed project in Zimbabwe is helping parents and children in village communities to talk to each other about reproductive and sexual health.