The project is a first for South Africa and aims to find a solution to the country’s dire neonatal mortality which currently stands at 21 per 1 000 live births.
Cardboard cots have been used in Finland for over 75 years and the Scandinavian country has one of the world’s lowest neonatal mortality rates at 2.3 per 1,000 live births.
Read: Tackling infant mortality
The World Vision cardboard cots, designed and distributed by the HOLO (help our little ones) Foundation, meets stringent international standards and features a myriad of safety certifications.
The cots are:
• Food-grade hygienic
• Fire repellent
• Carry up to 12kg
• Lightweight, and feature
• Carry bag
• Printed educational material
• Warning signs and
• Assembly instructions
Paula Barnard, national director of World Vision South Africa, commented on the effectiveness and aim of the project.
“The first 28 days of a new born infant’s life are critical. Studies have shown that cots greatly improve the mortality of babies, offering a safe place to play, sleep and grow. With the cardboard cots we hope to make significant impact on neonatal mortality whilst at the same time educating households of proper infancy care such as immunisation, breastfeeding and hygiene.”
The distribution of the World Vision cots also falls in line with the UN’s fourth Millennium Development Goal (MDG 4) which aims to reduce the 1990 mortality rate among under-five children by two thirds.
Child mortality is also closely linked to MDG 5 which aims to improve maternal health.
Read: Mom's obesity tied to higher infant mortality
Founding director of HOLO, Marié Janse van Rensburg, says the cardboard cot with mattress effectively becomes a baby's first bed.
“These babies will have their first naps within the safety of the box's four cardboard walls. Our aim is to provide a safe environment for children while also providing an important portability solution – the cots are extremely lightweight and equally easy to dismantle and assemble.”
To complement the distribution of the cardboard cots, World Vision and HOLO will in the next phase, offer basic hygiene training to the mothers through nurses situated at ADP's across the country.
The project also aims together with the cardboard cots, to provide mothers with a starter pack that includes a kangaroo wrap, fever thermometer, baby wash, baby bum cream and aqueous cream.
Depending on sufficient funding, the project hopes to distribute another 10 000 cots to mothers and their new born across the country in 2015.
HOLO is also in the process of designing the same cots for World Vision Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland and is hoping to hand out these cots in 2015.
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