Born safe

The First Lady of the US, Hillary Clinton, officially launched a 'Safe Home Delivey Kit' during her visit to a Kathmandu clinic in Nepal on March 31. Developed after 2 years of intensive research, the kit has been produced by Maternal and Child Health Products, a local company.

Of 700,000 annual births in Nepal, 650,000 are delivered at home under extremely unhygienic conditions. Nepal's maternal death rate of 850 per 100,000 each year -- the highest in the world -- is mostly caused by tetanus and sepsis. The kit contains devices similar to what a traditional Nepali birth attendant would use. It is claimed to be specially designed to suit traditional birth practices, including placing the umblical cord on a coin or a betel nut while cutting it.

The kit contains a small, sterilised, coin-like substitute, soap, a razor blade, sterilised umblical cord ties and a plastic sheet. All instructions for its use are illustrated. It costs only Rs 20 (50 US cents), and will be marketed through chemists, general stores, grocers, community health workers and medical practitioners.