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Māori and Pacific stand together for their babies

Māori and Pacific stand together for their babies

Too many Māori and Pacific babies are dying and front line staff working with whānau have a real opportunity to make a difference, according to two leading Māori and Pacific organisations for sudden infant death prevention.

The advice from Whakawhetu and TAHA comes as a new report Unintentional suffocation, foreign body inhalation and strangulation is released today by the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee (CYMRC).

Both organisations welcome the report which highlights the need for culturally appropriate services to be delivered to Māori and Pacific families. The report shows that the rate of death in Māori and Pacific infants is significantly higher than for European babies, which reinforces previous CYMRC recommendations urging the delivery of culturally appropriate messages.

Whakawhetu is a kaupapa Māori service, who focuses on improving service delivery to Māori families, by training front line staff and providing culturally appropriate resources.

“Although we have seen a reduction in infant death over the past 20 years, there is still work to be done to protect our babies from sudden infant death,” says Kodi Hapi, general manager of Whakawhetu.

Dr Teuila Percival of TAHA Well Pacific Mother and Infant Service reinforces the need for tailored information and engaging Māori and Pacific families. “The messenger is just as important as the message itself – the whole family and other carers need to be motivated to apply safe sleeping practices for their infants, and it usually takes a messenger who they trust and who understands their situation. The preventable loss of a single child is one too many. ”

Whakawhetu and TAHA support the recommendations made in the report by CYMRC and reiterates that there is no one solution to this problem.

“We all need to work together so that Māori and Pacific families can make every sleep a safe sleep for their little ones,” comments Kodi Hapi.

She says that while the solution may not be simple, the message is simple. Whakawhetu, with the support of TAHA, have developed an acronym to help front line workers remember the four steps to protect babies from SUDI.

P E P E means baby in both Māori and some Pacific languages and stands for;

1. PLACE baby in their own baby bed, in the same room as a caregiver.
2. ELIMINATE smoking in the pregnancy, in the home and in the car
3. POSITION baby on their back to sleep
4. ENCOURAGE mums to breastfeed.

An easy way to communicate all four steps to families is to simply tell them;

“Back to sleep in baby’s own bed
You’re smoke free and baby’s breast fed.”


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