Thula Baba Box

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Thula Baba Box
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Baby products, Information brochures on babies, Baby clothes, Washing Items, Basic medicine and Toys

The Thula Baba Box is a South African prototype product that is inspired by a Maternity Package created in Finland. The package helped to decrease the infant mortality rates (IMR) in Finland [1] and the goal is that the Thula Baba Box would be able to do the same in South Africa. [2]



The Thula Baba Box project was initiated by Stellenbosch parents Ernst Hertzog and Frans De Villiers. [3] They came up with the idea to develop a Maternity package, similar to the kit granted by the Finnish social security, and to introduce it into the newly proposed national health insurance system of South Africa by 2020. [4]


The box contains baby products, information brochures on babies, baby clothes, washing items, basic medicine, toys, and other items. [5]

The box further doubles up as a cot the newborn baby can sleep in. [6] It is aimed at providing a safe sleeping environment for the baby. It has been shown that providing the infant with his/her own bed, instead of sleeping with the parent, helps reduce the risk of death due to suffocation or falling in between the mattress and the headboard. [7] [8]

African relevance

Many African women and their newborns do not have access to health care during the early postnatal period, putting them at an increased risk of illness and death. Each year, 310,000 fewer newborns would die in Africa and many maternal deaths could be preventable if coverage of postnatal care reached 90 percent of women and babies. [9] With the Thula Baba Box adapted to the South African context it can serve as solid basis for other African nations to re-invent their own versions. [10]

South African health targets

South African health targets for 2014 include:

  • Reducing child mortalities to less than 20 deaths per 1,000 live births
  • To decrease the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) to 100 or less per 100 000 live births [11]

The Thula Baba Box has the potential to aid the Health Care system achieving these targets in the future. [12]

In 2015, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, were given a Baby Box by the Finnish government in celebration of the birth of their second born child, Baby Charlotte. [13]


A study into the potential social benefits of rolling out the Thula Baba Box is currently underway in the Western Cape, South Africa. The study, which is funded by the private sector and taken on board by the Department of Economics at the University of Stellenbosch, aims to assess the effects on maternal and infant health. The study focuses on mainly the lower-income families of the Western Cape. Detailed design work are expected to proceed once study work has been concluded. It is expected that the Thula Baba Box will be introduced to new mothers at state funded clinics and hospitals in the Western Cape within the next three to five years. [12]

Related Research Articles

Midwifery health science and profession that deals with pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period (including care of the newborn)

Midwifery is the health science and health profession that deals with pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period, in addition to the sexual and reproductive health of women throughout their lives. In many countries, midwifery is a medical profession. A professional in midwifery is known as a midwife.

Infant mortality overview about infant mortality

Infant mortality is the death of young children under the age of 1. This death toll is measured by the infant mortality rate (IMR), which is the number of deaths of children under one year of age per 1000 live births. The under-five mortality rate, which is referred to as the child mortality rate, is also an important statistic, considering the infant mortality rate focuses only on children under one year of age.

An infant is the more formal or specialised synonym for "baby", the very young offspring of a human. The term may also be used to refer to juveniles of other organisms.

Childbirth Expulsion of a fetus from the pregnant mothers uterus

Childbirth, also known as labour and delivery, is the ending of pregnancy where one or more babies leaves the uterus by passing through the vagina or by Caesarean section. In 2015, there were about 135 million births globally. About 15 million were born before 37 weeks of gestation, while between 3 and 12 percent were born after 42 weeks. In the developed world most deliveries occur in hospitals, while in the developing world most births take place at home with the support of a traditional birth attendant.

Maternal death the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy

Maternal death or maternal mortality is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes."

Postpartum period Period beginning immediately after the birth of a child and extending for about six weeks

The postpartum period begins immediately after childbirth as the mother's body, including hormone levels and uterus size, returns to a non-pregnant state. The terms puerperium, puerperal period, or immediate postpartum period are commonly used to refer to the first six weeks following childbirth. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes the postnatal period as the most critical and yet the most neglected phase in the lives of mothers and babies; most maternal and newborn deaths occur during this period. In scientific literature, the term is commonly abbreviated to Px, where x is a number; for example, "day P5" should be read as "the fifth day after birth". This is not to be confused with the medical nomenclature that uses G P to stand for number and outcomes of pregnancy.

Kangaroo care technique practiced on newborn, usually preterm, infants wherein the infant is held, skin-to-skin, with an adult.

Kangaroo care or kangaroo mother care (KMC), sometimes called skin-to-skin contact, is a technique of newborn care where babies are kept chest-to-chest and skin-to-skin with a parent, typically their mother. It is most commonly used for low birth-weight preterm babies, who are more likely to suffer from hypothermia, while admitted to a neonatal unit to keep the baby warm and support early breastfeeding.

Perinatal mortality deaths of infants during pregnancy or immediately after birth

Perinatal mortality (PNM) refers to the death of a fetus or neonate and is the basis to calculate the perinatal mortality rate. Variations in the precise definition of the perinatal mortality exist, specifically concerning the issue of inclusion or exclusion of early fetal and late neonatal fatalities. The World Health Organization defines perinatal mortality as the "number of stillbirths and deaths in the first week of life per 1,000 total births, the perinatal period commences at 28completed weeks of gestation, and ends seven completed days after birth", but other definitions have been used.

Maternal health is the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. It encompasses the health care dimensions of family planning, preconception, prenatal, and postnatal care in order to ensure a positive and fulfilling experience, in most cases, and reduce maternal morbidity and mortality, in other cases. Maternal health revolves around the health and wellness of women, particularly when they are pregnant, at the time they give birth, and during child-raising. WHO has indicated that even though motherhood has been considered as a fulfilling natural experience that is emotional to the mother, a high percentage of women go through a lot of challenges where they suffer health-wise and sometimes even die. Because of this, there is a need to invest in the health of women. The investment can be achieved in different ways, among the main ones being subsidizing the healthcare cost, education on maternal health, encouraging effective family planning, and ensuring progressive check up on the health of women with children.

Sheppard–Towner Act U.S. Act of Congress

The Promotion of the Welfare and Hygiene of Maternity and Infancy Act, more commonly known as the Sheppard–Towner Act, was a 1921 U.S. Act of Congress that provided federal funding for maternity and child care. It was sponsored by Senator Morris Sheppard (D) of Texas and Representative Horace Mann Towner (R) of Iowa, and signed by President Warren G. Harding on November 23, 1921.

The 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Tanzania was 790. This is compared with 449 in 2008 and 610.2 in 1990. The UN Child Mortality Report 2011 reports a decrease in under-five mortality from 155 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 76 per 1,000 live births in 2010, and in neonatal mortality from 40 per 1,000 live births to 26 per 1,000 live births. The aim of the report The State of the World's Midwifery is to highlight ways in which the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved, particularly Goal 4 – Reduce child mortality and Goal 5 – improve maternal health. In Tanzania there are only two midwives per 1,000 live births; and the lifetime risk of death during delivery for women is one in 23.

Maternity package kit granted by the Finnish social security institution Kela, to all expectant or adoptive parents who live in Finland or are covered by the Finnish social security system

The Maternity package is a kit granted by the Finnish social security institution Kela, to all expectant or adoptive parents who live in Finland or are covered by the Finnish social security system. The package contains children's clothes and other necessary items, such as nappies, bedding, cloth, gauze towels and child-care products. It was first issued in 1938 to parents with a low income, and contained a blanket, crib sheets, diapers, and fabric which parents could use to make clothing for the baby.

Both maternal and child health are interdependent and substantially contributing to high burden of mortality worldwide. Every year, 289 000 women die due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth, and 6.6 million children below 5 years of age die of complications in the newborn period and of common childhood diseases. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), which includes Tanzania, contribute higher proportion of maternal and child mortality. Due to considerable proportion of mortality being attributed by maternal and child health, the United Nations together with other international agencies incorporated the two into Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5. In this regard, Tanzania through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoHSW) adopted different strategies and efforts to promote safe motherhood and improve child survival. Similarly, in an effort to improve maternal and child health, Tanzania’s government has declared maternal and child health services to be exempt from user fees in government facilities.

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Neonatal infection Human disease

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  3. "Gates, Money & Science". BBC Horizons. 2:30 minutes in. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
  4. "South African fathers develop baby 'survival kit'". Brand SA, Department of Trade and Industry. April 30, 2014. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
  5. Pillay, Taschica (May 19, 2014). "Baby box could save lives of newborns". The Times. Retrieved May 27, 2015.
  6. Todres, Philip (April 28, 2014). "Thula Baby Box". Cape Town Green Map. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  7. Pattinson, R.C. (2012). "Saving mothers 2008-2010: Fifth report on the confidential enquiries into maternal deaths in South Africa". Pretoria: National Department of Health.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. Pattinson, R.C. (2012). "Saving babies 2010-2011: Eighth report on perinatal care in South Africa". Tshepesa Press, Pretoria.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. Darmstadt, GL; Bhutta, ZA; Cousens, S; Adam, T; Walker, N; De Bernis, L (2005). "Evidence-based, cost-effective interventions: How many newborn babies can we save?". Lancet. 365: 977–988. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(05)71088-6.
  10. "The Thula Project". Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  11. "Health Care - South Africa". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  12. 1 2 Fredericks, Ilse (May 9, 2014). "A box that could save babies". Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  13. "Royal baby: William and Catherine get Finnish baby box". Retrieved July 7, 2015.