The European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI) in collaboration with the international network Global Alliance for New-born Care (GLANCE) has joined forces worldwide with partner organisations to launch a long-term information campaign to inform and support parents whose premature infants are being treated during the pandemic in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (Nicu).
Along with the parents, the campaign aims to provide support to health professionals.
The campaign is supported by the Incubator of Love organisation in Cyprus.
Due to Covid-19 worldwide neonatal clinics have adopted a policy of segregation, restricting or denying parents access to the Nicu, however, this segregation may lead to long-term developmental and health problems in newborns and affect the mental health of parents.
For this reason, GLANCE aims to raise awareness of the needs of parents and new-borns in times of pandemics and provide information on the possibilities of adopting a zero-separation approach.
The campaign provides information resources through the use of the websites and social networking pages related to the developmental care of newborns and their families both in the light of Covid-19 and beyond.
“With the global spread of coronavirus and the implementation of measures against Covid-19, we found that, due to the pandemic, parents were faced with the fact of both limited access to Nicus and its universal ban. Many of them contacted us, seeking help and information on whether it was really necessary for parents to stay away from their newborns,” said Silke Mader, president of EFCNI and founder of GLANCE.
Following research and opinion polls by a number of health professionals internationally, and after consulting World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, it emerged that the separation of parents from their infants was adopted as a practice, without any documentation on the functionality of this practice has been previously been mediated.
In fact, WHO stated: “The mother and baby should be able to stay together day and night and maintain skin-to-skin contact, including kangaroo maternal care, especially immediately after childbirth and breast-feeding, regardless of whether the mother or her infant are diagnosed or have a history of coronavirus infection.”
The impact of segregation policy on neonatal health outcomes may become insurmountable, which is why the campaign seeks to motivate and promote an approach that allows family care when and where possible, even in pandemic periods.
At the same time, it is noted that the information and awareness campaign focuses on six main topics: Breastfeeding and breast milk, lung diseases, older children who were premature babies, mental health, hospital discharge. To better inform about the consequences of the separation of parents and newborns, the campaign highlights and promotes the views and experiences of patients and parents, as well as records and published recorded experiences of former patients, parents and relatives.
Campaign material is available in more than 20 languages at www.glance-network.org