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Jaundice and phototherapy

Whilst treatment for newborn jaundice is not usually needed, if tests show very high levels of bilirubin in a baby’s blood and if left untreated, there is a small risk the bilirubin could pass into the brain and cause permanent damage.
Phototherapy, is one of two main treatments, that can be carried out in hospital to quickly reduce a baby’s bilirubin levels. A special type of light shines on the skin, which alters the bilirubin into a form that can be more easily broken down by the liver. A main benefit of phototherapy treatment, compared to the alternative of an exchange transfusion, is that it is non-invasive. Also, it is potentially less costly.

How Inter Care helped

Acting in response to a specific request from the hospital staff, via our One Wish project, Inter Care sent a phototherapy machine to our partner unit Mzambazi Community Hospital (MCH), a rural hospital located in Malawi’s Northern region.

Multiple outcomes

After only a few weeks from receiving the phototherapy machine, six newborn babies just like Tadala (see photo) have had their jaundice treated successfully and their quality of life improved. And, in the future, we anticipate many more babies will benefit similarly.

The families, of the babies, have benefitted from significantly reduced living/travel costs i.e., parents or guardians visiting MCH’s referral centre now potentially have 66 miles (106 km) less distance to travel.
The Hospital has also benefitted significantly, because it no longer has to pay referral costs, previously paid by MCH to Mzuzu Central Hospital (a larger, better equipped hospital located 66 miles away), for the use of their facilities.

In the long term, the local community will benefit because MCH now operates as a referral centre to eight health centres in the surrounding region who may now refer newborn babies with jaundice to MCH’s phototherapy service. By charging regional health centres, for the use of their Inter Care donated phototherapy machine, MCH can create extra income: thereby enhancing their service capacity for the overall benefit of the community.

Tadala (pictured above) was one of the first 6 babies to receive phototherapy treatment using the machine donated by Inter Care.

“Since its donation [phototherapy machine] in June 2023, we have managed to assist a total of 6 babies. Thank you, Inter Care” -Dr Samuel Nyangulu, Clinical Offer at MCH