Strengthening Maternal and Infant Health in an Impoverished Peri Urban Community in Lima, Peru: The SAMI Project

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Breast Feeding, Comprehensive Health Care, Depression, Maternal-Child Health Services, Maternal Health, Depression, Postpartum

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While Peru has made strides in preventing maternal mortality, a more comprehensive and systematic approach towards reducing maternal morbidity and improving infant health is critical. In this paper, we present the preliminary results of the ‘Strengthening Maternal and Child Health in the District of Carabayllo’ or SAMI Project, developed by non-governmental organization Socios en Salud (Partners in Health). The project offers an innovative and multifaceted community approach to preventing maternal morbidity through management of the clinical, emotional, and nutritional health needs of pregnant women, postpartum women and infants in Lima, Peru. In collaboration with local stakeholders and the Peruvian Ministry of Health, the intervention utilizes the critical role of Community Health Workers as project collaborators. Local NGO team members include project coordinator, psychologists, nutritionists, and midwifes. Women are enrolled during pregnancy, give birth during the project, and are monitored alongside their infants until 1-year post birth. Project activities include accompaniment to clinical health appointments by community health workers for women until three months postpartum, birth education classes in the second and third trimesters, birth planning, depression screening, and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ‘Thinking Healthy Programme’ to reduce symptoms of mild to moderate perinatal depression. Between August 2016 to August 2018, 89 pregnant women were screened for SAMI participation and until August 2018, 59 women participated in the intervention. 75% had completed 6 or more prenatal visits. 35% had anemia at some point during their pregnancy and 24% of participants screened positive for depression and participated in the Thinking Healthy Programme. Of the 40 participants who had given birth, 92.5% of newborns had normal birthweight between 2.5 to 4 kilos. These initial results are encouraging, and the project anticipates positive results in new communities where it will be extended in the future. Additionally, the project serves as a model for comprehensive maternal infant health services in low income communities.

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The Italian Journal for Interdisciplinary Health and Social Development, in press