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Keeping All Babies Safe While Sleeping Imperative For This Years’ Safe Sleep Day

Te Rā Mokopuna: National Safe Sleep Day Aotearoa is being held on Friday 3rd December 2021 across the motu proudly coordinated by the National SUDI Prevention Coordination Service at Hāpai Te Hauora. The aim of Te Rā Mokopuna is to raise awareness about Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI), with the vision of reducing the rate in which it occurs in our New Zealand families and communities. SUDI is preventable, and the risk factors for our babies can be significantly reduced should the right steps be implemented.

Fay Selby-Law, General Manager of the National SUDI Prevention Coordination Service explains, "Safe Sleep Day reminds us that pēpi continue to be born alongside multiple inequitable issues within the healthcare system in Aotearoa. A consistent national approach to safe sleeping is required in order to ensure pēpi and their whānau receive the support that ensures every sleep is safe. It is a time to acknowledge the education and awareness provided by health staff across Iwi, Māori and Pacific Providers, Whānau Āwhina Plunket and District Health Boards".

Selby-Law reiterates that although the SUDI rates have reduced they have not fallen equitably across the whole population. Māori babies are around seven times more likely and Pacific babies are nearly four times more likely to die from SUDI. Ensuring every baby has a safe sleep, every time they sleep, will dramatically reduce the number of SUDI cases in Aotearoa.

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Chief Executive Officer of Hāpai Te Hauora, Selah Hart, echoes the importance of ensuring that all our new born pēpi have a safe sleep environment, this includes the numerous health benefits of using wahakura. "By ensuring wahakura are readily available to any whānau with a newborn, we are actively helping to promote excellent safe sleeping habits. As we live day by day in these uncertain times of Covid-19, it has highlighted the many inequities and cultural barriers within the healthcare system. The lack of access to wahakura for all whānau is one of these barriers. The National SUDI Prevention Coordination Service is committed to breaking down all barriers and ensuring all whānau have access to wahakura immediately".

Alongside the National SUDI Prevention Coordination Service at Hāpai Te Hauora, Ane Fa’aui of Moana Research, presents ‘My Baby’s Village’, a collaborative initiative grounded in Pacific values. My Baby’s Village is one way to show how families can play an important role in caring for our babies and parents. Now more than ever it is important for us to reach out and provide a village of support to our babies, our mothers, our fathers, our carers. We all understand that raising a baby and family can be challenging, everyday pressures, lack of sleep and then add COVID-19. My Baby’s Village shows that by working together as a family/village, doing small or large acts of ofa (love) such as cooking a meal or looking after baby for an hour whilst mum sleeps, makes a huge difference.

National Workforce Development Lead for Hāpai Te Hauora, Nari Faiers highlights the importance of enabling and privileging Māori and Pacific voices in health messaging especially for our most vulnerable - pēpi. She also agrees with Te Hiringa Hauora (2020) reiterating within their research, that Māori and Pacific families need clear, concise messaging and trusted relationships with health professionals. This can only come with enabling Māori and Pacific worldviews on whānau and manaakitanga.

The National SUDI Prevention Coordination Service will be supporting sector activations for the annual national health promotion day by providing a suite of digital resources for those involved; including a plastic baby bed recycling programme, safe sleep day banners in multiple languages, safe sleep health promotion messages and imagery including wahakura and SUDI prevention health promotion messaging. The National SUDI Prevention Coordination Service is encouraging all health providers and health promotion services to get in contact for any resourcing required for the upcoming promotion day.

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