Breastfeed Your Baby (B.Y.B)

You Are Your Baby’s First Line of Defense

Photo of Magdalen Kwarteng
18 23

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Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

11/30/1998, 4/2/1998

Where are you located:

New York: New York (10027)
Virginia: Springfield (22153)
Ghana: Accra (00233)

Date Started

04/05/2018

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Idea (hoping to get started in the future)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

Coming from Bangladeshi and Ghanaian backgrounds, we are aware of the health disparities in the existing health systems set in place in these countries. After taking a public health course taught by professors at Columbia University, we were inspired to take an initiative to improve the health of vulnerable communities. This class gave us the skills and opportunity to develop a project, where we chose and explored a health priority. Furthermore, an analysis of existing public health approaches and development of holistic recommendations were created to address and tackle our chosen health issue. Through this experience, we feel confident in stepping up and making a change by creating health project of our own, and this time focusing on Ghana.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Ghana has been facing declining breastfeeding rates, preventing children from obtaining an improved immune system that can tackle diseases that plague Ghana’s infants. In fact, infants in Ghana die mainly from malaria and measles, which can be alleviated by breastfeeding. However, the perceived efficiency of milk-substitutes is seen as a better alternative for mothers, which further decrease the breastfeeding rates in Ghana.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Firstly, we would survey mothers in Ghana about their postnatal care for their infants and whether these mothers were informed about the benefits/methods of breastfeeding post-labor. This allows us to understand why some mothers are choosing not to breastfeed in Ghana.
Additionally, we would like to partner with a hospital in Accra. This hospital will hand out easy to read physical pamphlets with diagrams from local illustrators, detailing the process and importance of breastfeeding. These pamphlets will be accessible via tablets, which will include audio instructions and video content.
Another goal is to have trained workers at our pilot hospital teach mothers how to use manual breast pumps, which are affordable and efficient. A survey will be distributed every three months on the usage of the breast pumps by these mothers. Financial incentives will be given.
Lastly, we would like to work with UNICEF, Ghana Health Services, and other government programs that are currently working to increase breastfeeding rates in Ghana. The support of these organizations will make it easier to distribute information and resources to mothers in Ghana.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

After a mother gives birth, a trained healthcare professional will teach her how to effectively breastfeed her child within one hour of giving birth. Subsequently, she will be taught how to use a manual breast pump, which will be provided either free or low-cost by our program, to make the breastfeeding more efficient. Then, pamphlets and interactive videos on tablets will be provided to further reinforce the benefits of breastfeeding. Lastly, the mother will be given a survey about her confidence in breastfeeding after the training and continuously over 3-months increments for a year; small financial incentives will be given. These surveys will identify the frequency of breast pump usage to monitor the success of the program. Our program will bridge a way to help mothers provide a healthier life for their babies.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Although there are many organizations taking initiatives to increase breastfeeding rates in Ghana, like the Ghana Health Services, these approaches often lack direct input from mothers and are not addressing the root cause of the issue. In contrast, our project will use local data and input to create more effective strategies. Data will be collected and organized from the surveys to help analyze the current trend of decreasing breastfeeding rates in the Greater Accra region in Ghana and to determine the reasons behind a mother’s choice to breastfeed.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

B.Y.B is currently still in the idea stage. However, once enacted, the main indicator of progress will be through surveys supplied to mothers that partake in our program. This will give us tangible data that can allow us to compare the well-being of infants that participated in this program to infants whose mothers were not in our program. We will also compare the infant mortality rates of children whose mothers participated in this program to the city’s average. Hopefully, infants whose mothers participated in B.Y.B program will be healthier and suffer less from communicable diseases.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Enacting and carrying out B.Y. B is our main goal. After our pilot program, we hope to establish B.Y.B in other hospitals located in Accra. Furthermore, we anticipate that B.Y.B will further expand by working alongside mothers who give birth at home with assistance from a birthing attendant. After all, many expecting mothers in Ghana find it more cost-effective to have a delivery at home. In addition, to further advocate breastfeeding in Ghana we can design and place attractive and simple posters stating benefits of breastfeeding in local supermarkets. We aim to have all of our educational materials and flyers translated into local dialects.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

Funding will help mobilize our program and put our plan into action. This will allow us to design and print pamphlets, as well as pay local illustrators. We also plan to seek funding to buy tablets that will provide digital copies of our pamphlets. Furthermore, funds will be needed to order breast pumps to our partner hospitals. Financial resources will help us provide financial incentives to the mothers participating in our program. We are currently in talks with the Ridge Hospital in Ghana to become our pilot hospital. Thankfully, we currently have support and mentorship from public health professors from Mailman School of Public Health. They have experience creating humanitarian projects in Ghana and they help us work out the logistics.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

As students at Barnard College, we are in an environment that values empowering women to be independent and well-informed. Barnard College has a program called the Athena Digital Design Agency (ADDA), which helps women learn coding and web-design. By working alongside ADDA, we can recruit fellow peers to help develop and implement new applications and interactive pamphlets in various dialects to reach a wider audience in Ghana. Ultimately, we would love to work with other changemakers to make a global impact and to empower women.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc) (8)
  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Disability community
  • Low-income community
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others
  • T-Mobile page or contact

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Photo of Danielle Snyder Potter
Team

You guys are amazing!! Keep up the wonderful work to improve the community in Ghana. I’m very excited to see what you guys do in the future!! Best of luck to you!

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