Our Mission

LAIIT Initiative stands for Lactation Aid for Infants in Intensive Treatment Initiative. Our mission at LAIIT is to reduce under-five childhood mortality by paying close attention to and providing assistance in the care and nourishment of infants pre and post gestation. Our aim is to become a global spokesman and advocate for infants in intensive care which is a group that is often forgotten from national healthcare spending budgets all the way to local public hospital spending budgets in most developing countries.

Our main purpose at LAIIT Initiative is to improve breast milk access to infants who are unable to breastfeed or latch on and those receiving intensive care and treatment at a medical facility.

Needs Assessment

  • Many women in Senegal give birth to children with low birth weight regardless of financial status. This may be caused by: premature birth, poor maternal health or nutrition and lack of adequate prenatal care.
  • Many newborns are often too sick to go home hence needing to stay at the hospital’ intensive care units for monitoring and treatment. Unfortunately not all infants have that luxury. Due to the lack of capacity of these units to care for many infants at once and most parents’ strained financial ability to afford their children’s stay at the hospital, most infants in need of intensive care are sent home too soon. Those who are able to stay at the hospital are given formula instead of their mother’s milk. Lack of access to mother’s milk at the earliest stages of infancy prevents babies from obtaining optimal nutrition for development.
  • Mother’s milk is often times referred to as a child’s « first vaccination », strengthening a child’s immunity against many diseases. Lack of access to mother’s milk is caused by multiple factors. Let us elaborate on a few:
  • Some infants are unable to breastfeed successfully as a result of premature birth and not having developed the sucking reflex.
  • Others are unable to breastfeed because they are inside incubators connected to feeding and intravenous tubes.
  • Some mothers wish to breastfeed but are unable to as a result of illness or low milk production leaves even healthy infants without access to key nutrition for development and creates a reliance on formula, which can be costly.
  • In some cases, mothers who want to give their child breastmilk, their only option is to use syringes to extract the breast milk directly from the milk duct, which can be a very painful, inefficient and time consuming process. Mothers who are unable to feed their babies are stuck with many problems:
  • Prior to giving birth or as soon as they give birth their bodies start producing milk. Not being able to dispose of that milk, the breasts get heavy and start to leak. Constant breast milk leakage soils mother’s clothes and bedsheets ( makes them wet and smelly) ( Hence the need of breast pads, we plan to teach women how to make them).
  • The inability to express the milk from their breasts leads to painful engorgement, and causes blockages in the milk ducts, which can inhibit future production of breastmilk. Other side effects of engorgement include mastitis, an infection within the milk ducts that also causes fevers and headaches to the mothers. The cessation of milk production can be tragic financially for the parents and medically for the child in this context: Because of poverty, most mothers in the developing world simply cannot afford formula, making breast milk their only option to feed their infant. The use of formula also poses risks of infection due to the lack of education about proper ways of washing bottles, sterilization, and milk disposal.
  • In all, If the infant is unable to have access to neither breastmilk or formula, then the child is at greater risk for malnutrition, increasing the chances of infant mortality.
Figure of african woman

Our Solution

What
At LAIIT Initiative, we have come up with innovative and sustainable solutions to improve breastmilk access and provide additional care for newborn infants currently receiving intensive treatment due to low birthweight, premature birth or illness at birth.
How
At LAIIT Initiative we understand that in order to improve infants access to quality breastmilk we must improve maternal health and nutrition from gestation. As soon as a mother finds out her pregnancy we would provide her with prenatal care. This care include medical checkups throughout the pregnancy that will involve an assessment of the mother’s health, weight, identifying if the mother is nutrient deficient and provide remedy where applicable. Remedies would include being under the care of a medical professional who will monitor the mother’s health if she has an underlying medical condition, providing her with prenatal vitamins, getting counsel from our nutritionists who will put together food plan based on local diets, and providing resources that will make it easier and more affordable to access food staples.
Of course prenatal care must include fetal health monitoring. Our mothers will have access to ultrasounds where a health professional will monitor fetal growth, heartbeat and all other elements that help to assess fetal health.
The main focus of our program will be on Lactation. That is putting in place all the necessary means to ensure that mothers produce quality milk and that babies, especially those who are sick or underweight to have access to that milk as soon as they are born. We ensure the availability of breast pumps at neonatal intensive care units for breast milk extraction, provide ways to conserve the milk by providing sterile storage bags and refrigerators as well as the tools, including tubes and syringes, necessary to administer that milk to these babies.
Improving intensive care unit capacity is another very important aspect of our program. We will help to improve the capacity of all medical facilities that have an intensive care unit by providing medical equipment and supplies that the unit might not currently possess or has a shortage of to provide optimal care to sick newborns.
Where
Short-term: This project will first take place in Thies, Senegal. Our short term goal is to improve birth weights which would decrease the likelihood of newborns needing to stay in intensive care units for long periods of time and decrease the rate of infant mortality in Thies. We will work in collaboration with local hospitals and clinics.
Long-term: After successful implementation of the program, we will expand by building a center in all regions of the country and then outwards to other countries in West Africa and beyond. These centers will have all the services mentioned above available in one place and be specialized only for the care of mothers and babies pre and post gestation.
How you can help?
We need your help to achieve our main goal which is to reduce infant mortality caused by inadequate nutrition from gestation to 6 months post. For this program to be successful, we will need your unwavered support. You can offer your expertise, connections, ideas as well as financial contributions and donations of medical supplies and equipment that our babies can benefit from. You can also be an advocate of breastfeeding and infant and children’s right to adequate healthcare in your locality. Thank you!
Figure of african woman holding a baby