During my 2013 trip to Colombia, I worked with Save the Children documenting the Kangaroo Program in Bogota. It was not only a pleasure to photograph the intimate relationship between parents and their newborns, but a great opportunity to document a successful story born from a ‘developing’ country, and spread across the world.
“The Kangaroo method humanizes the care of newborn premature babies. It reduces mortality rates and improves their quality of life. It was born, developed and evaluated here, in Colombia. And I believe it should be a great pride for the country”, says Dr. Nathalie Charpak, Director of the Kangaroo Foundation.
When held in Kangaroo position (holding the baby against the parent’s body), the babies often regulate temperature better than those achieved in incubators. “The method also allows the baby to rest and fall asleep deeply, this can never be achieved by an incubator”, Dr. Charpak explains.
As an integral plan, the Kangaroo Program not only assists parents on the healthy development of the baby, but on their social problems. It encourages all family members to work together towards the well being of their newborn babies. Jair, a 20 year-old father, who holds his baby Dilan on kangaroo position during controls at the Kangaroo Foundation in San Ignacio Hospital in Bogota says: “the baby can feel our heartbeats, he feels closer to us; it gives him confidence and security”.
Whilst helping babies on their physical development, the Kangaroo Program also allows for a closer bonds between parents and babies: ” it’s more rewarding to able to have my baby by my side from the first moment, instead of having her in an incubator”, says Juana. Her baby Sara, has gained over 60 grams in 3 days. Looking at her baby she adds, “Love is the best medicine”.