Did you know that every year 15 million babies are born prematurely worldwide? Of these babies, more than one million die due to complications related to premature birth. Malawi has the highest rate of premature birth in the world, with 18% of babies born too soon, and many families struggle to provide the basic resources needed to ensure their newborn has a healthy start in life. The good news? You can make a difference. This holiday season, the Every Preemie – SCALE project has partnered with Alternative Gifts International to improve the lives of newborns and their caretakers by delivering life-saving resources in the Balaka district of Malawi.

Premature newborns face a multitude of problems in and out of the hospital. Among their daily challenges include lack of access to warmth, proper breastfeeding support and adequate care for infections and breathing difficulties. While these problems may seem daunting, they can be managed with the appropriate resources and materials. By giving the gift of a Newborn Comfort Kit for $28, three newborns will be given hats, socks and baby wrappers to keep warm and stabilize their temperature during an extremely fragile time.

Apart from caring for their vulnerable newborns, mothers encounter a myriad of their own problems. When walking into a clinic in the Balaka district in Malawi, one donor was shocked to discover that mothers who did not have beds slept on the floor, with only a thin piece of cloth to keep them covered. Additionally, mothers’ chests and backs are frequently left exposed when practicing skin-to-skin care, a life-saving practice for newborns, due to an absence of substantial gowns to keep them covered. Mothers shouldn’t have to choose between using a cloth for coverage or for warmth. You can help eliminate this choice by giving the gift of a Mother Support Kit for only $33. This kit provides five mothers with small blankets and gowns to ensure their comfort while staying in the facility.

Nurses and midwives also experience a great deal of obstacles within the facilities. Many do not receive continued training on best practices and current standards for early/small newborn care. They also do not have access to counseling materials that are used to prepare families for taking care of their early/small newborn once they leave the facility. This is especially dangerous for newborns, as the risk of complications and death are just as high, if not higher, once they are brought home and not under constant professional care. For $550 you can give the gift of a Clinic Upgrade and Nurse/Midwife Capacity Package. This package will provide nurses and midwives with training and much needed supplies and counseling materials to empower families to be active and confident caregivers.

This holiday season, you have the opportunity to become a part of something more meaningful. By giving any one of these gifts, you will be directly helping to save a newborn’s life and solidifying his or her future health and happiness.

By Devan Deignan

Every Preemie—SCALE is a 5-year USAID-funded program designed to catalyze the global and national conversation around preterm birth and low birth weight in 25 priority maternal and child health countries, primarily in Africa and South Asia. The program is implemented by PCI, the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), and the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM).