Nargiza is in labor at Kyrgyzstan’s National Maternal and Child Health Center in Bishkek. Her sister Jibek is assisting and Nargiza can choose any position for delivery. Partner-assisted and free position deliveries are both recently introduced birth practices in Kyrgyzstan. Meanwhile, Aizat has just given birth to a boy, her second child. Better neonatal hygiene as well skin-to-skin contact after birth and exclusive breast-feeding are now becoming standard practice in Kyrgyzstan. These are just some of the ways hospitals and clinics certified by UNICEF as “baby friendly” are providing a continuum of care for mothers and newborns.
This delivery was different. The doctor put my son directly on my chest after birth. Within half an hour he was seeking my breast to feed. But the first time I gave birth, the nurse immediately took my child away to a different ward.
Most mothers in Kyrgyzstan deliver their children at a hospital or clinic, however maternal mortality rates remain high. Poor nutrition is a leading cause of birth complications. More than 50 percent of pregnant mothers in Kyrgyzstan suffer from anemia. UNICEF is working with health authorities to introduce cost-effective ways to reduce both maternal and infant mortality.
TIM SCHAFFTER [UNICEF Representative, Kyrgyzstan]
For children, when they're born, simple techniques to improve sanitation and hygiene to prevent infection, simple techniques such as promoting breast feeding with children has an amazing reduction in child illness and death.
Only 55 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s hospitals and clinics are certified as "baby friendly." The death of a newborn or a mother that could be prevented is a tragedy in every Kyrgyz community. However, new equipment and training is beginning to make a difference.
GULDAN DUISHENBAEVA [Head of Maternal Health, National Maternal and Child Health Center, Bishkek]
We make it a priority to train all our doctors and midwives and health professionals so they can advocate and teach our patients. If the doctors themselves don’t know the issues surrounding, for example, breastfeeding, then they can't very well explain them to parents.
New health policies now enable pregnant women to receive free medical care throughout their pregnancy and for their children up to the age of five. Gradually, Kyrgyzstan’s health system is developing the capacity to provide a more holistic approach to maternal and infant care. In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, this is Guy Degen reporting for UNICEF Television. Unite for children.