This post was written by Dr. Shaun Morris from Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto who developed the Maternal and Neonatal Kit we are funding.
I’ve just returned home to Toronto from Pakistan. No matter how many times I fly around the world, it never ceases to amaze me how just a few hours on a plane can transport a person between two completely different worlds.
I spent about a week in Rahim Yar Khan preparing for the launch of the study. It’s exciting that after over a year of planning, we are actually about to start the trial. The kits are being assembled, the study areas are being selected, and training of people has begun. For any endeavor of this sort, it’s the people that are the most important and I think we’ve assembled a fantastic team in Rahim Yar Khan. The team consists of: several hundred Lady Health Workers who will deliver the kit to pregnant women and teach about its use; data collectors, a group of about 15 young women who will visit each household in the study 5 times in the first month of life of the newborn baby to collect all the data that we will use to document the impact of the kit, and a group of field, data, and study managers. I was tremendously impressed with the group of data collectors. These young women, mostly in their 20s, are intelligent and driven. They understand the study, the kit, and are eager to make a meaningful difference in their community. As I’ve reflected on before, I often think about how the place of one’s birth so dramatically impacts one’s life. I don’t have a doubt in my mind that if these young women were born in a high income country, they would be the doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, bankers, and leaders of the next generation. Internet access is rare in this part of Pakistan so I couldn’t believe my ears when one of the young women raised her hand at the end of a training session and told me that she’d read about Baby Hero online and the company’s role in the project. The growing connections between Hong Kong, Baby Hero, and this part of rural Pakistan continues to amaze me.
Preparing to weigh a newborn
The training sessions went well both in the classroom and in the field. We visited several villages to see women who had delivered recently to trial the data questionnaires, weighing device, and other kit components. Everything went off without a hitch and importantly, the women were very accepting of the interventions and the questions. Though the last thing I want to do is make a scene of any sort, every time I walked into a new village there was quickly a gathering of people and especially children around me. Needless to say, there aren’t too many foreigners who visit these villages!
I hope to return to Pakistan in the Spring to formally launch the study and if all goes according to plan, with [Baby Hero co-founder] Samar in tow!
Data Collectors being trained