Personal Sacrifice That Paid Off

Moussa Oumarou, a commercial motorbike rider, gave up his job to assist his wife take care of their preterm twins through the kangaroo method.

Were it not for his timely and wise decision, their babies might not be alive today. Unlike most husbands, he saw baby care – especially “specialised” baby care - not only as a woman’s responsibility, but also his duty. Moussa Oumarou, a commercial motorbike rider, and wife, Oumoul Kousoulmi, were on November 2, 2020, blessed with a set of twins – their fifth and sixth children. But the celebration of the newborn by the Mbororo tribe couple, whose children were born in the Bertoua District Hospital in Cameroon’s East Region, was short-lived. the couple lives in Bertoua. The twins came out premature at 31 weeks with low birth weights. The first, a boy, Oumar, weighed 2.3 kg; while the second, Ousssana, a girl, weighed only 1.8 kg.


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Barely three weeks after birth and leaving hospital, the babies fell seriously sick. Oumar had dropped from 2.3 kg to 1.4 kg! While the sister, Ousssana, plummeted from 1.8 kg to 1 kg! Alarmed at the fast deteriorating health of the babies, Moussa and Oumoul rushed them to Tigaza Health Centre in Bertoua. Realising that it was a problem of preterm birth and low birth weight, the couple was promptly referred to Catholic Integrated Health Centre, Nkolbikon, Bertoua. Which boasts a Kangaroo Mother Care, KMC unit and trained staff. And where the twins were admitted on November 23, 2020.


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“I was afraid when the children were born with low weights,” recalls Moussa Oumarou. “My wife and I did everything to save their lives since they were born premature. We did not know of KMC. Thank God we discovered it and our children survived,” says the smiling father. But the survival of the babies was due largely to Moussa’s personal sacrifice. “It was too tedious for my wife alone to provide kangaroo care to the twins. Carrying the two on her bosom at the same time was too much for her. I then decided to temporarily leave my job to become a kangaroo father,” explains Oumarou in his early thirties.


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Oumar and Oussana are both out of kangaroo care at home because the couple practised the KMC demonstrations they received to the letter. “We were trained to keep the babies to our chests after bathing, and to avoid exposing them to cold. I am glad our twins have regained weight and are doing fine,” says Moussa Oumarou.  


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Oumar and Oussana are amongst the 11 preterm and low birth weight babies whose lives have been saved through kangaroo mother care in Catholic Integrated Health Centre, Nkolbikon, Bertoua. Dzemta Marlyse, one of the two KMC nurses trained by the Cameroon Kangaroo Foundation at Laquintinie Hospital, Douala, Cameroon, says she is happy with her new job.


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“I am so grateful for the training, thanks to UNICEF. It enabled me to learn much. I never imagined that I could help cater for a baby weighing only 1 kg until it survived. The first baby we took in for KMC is already walking!” Dzemta recalls, beaming with a smile. She insists on the need for regular refresher courses to keep up the good work.


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