Founder, GLANCE, and Chairwoman, EFCNI
Founding Member, GLANCE, and Head of Communications, EFCNI
The Global Alliance for Newborn Care (GLANCE) launched the “Zero separation. Together for better care!” campaign to enable infant and family centred developmental care in line with COVID-19 precautions.
The campaign came about after neonatal units worldwide adopted a separation policy, limiting or prohibiting access of parents to neonatal care units1. Yet, separation in this crucial stage of life can result in long-term health and developmental issues in newborns and impact the mental health of parents2.
GLANCE, a global initiative founded and coordinated by the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI), wants to raise awareness of the benefits of zero separation of hospitalised babies and their parents.
“Since the global spread of the coronavirus, and the introduction of COVID-19 precautions, many parents are facing very restricted or even prohibited access to the neonatal intensive care units. Some parents may see their baby for 15 minutes a day; some cannot be with their child for weeks or even months.
“Our community reached out to us, asking for help, wondering if it was necessary to keep parents and babies apart,” explains Silke Mader, Chairwoman of EFCNI and founder of GLANCE.
Some parents may see their baby for 15 minutes a day; some cannot be with their child for weeks or even months.
Zero separation for better outcomes
In exchange with international healthcare professionals and consulting the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, it appeared this separation had been decided on no current evidence. The WHO supports rooming-in and skin-to-skin contact, especially immediately after birth and during establishment of breastfeeding, regardless of whether mothers or their babies have a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection3.
Zero separation promotes healthy weight gain, neurologic development and increased breastfeeding rates to name but a few. The virus confronts hospital staff with enormous challenges and measures protecting the well-being and safety of patients and staff, must always come first.
Yet, bearing the long-term impact of this separation policy in mind, neonatal wards should be encouraged to enable infant and family centred developmental care when and wherever possible, even in times of a pandemic.
Zero separation promotes healthy weight gain, neurologic development and increased breastfeeding rates.
Support from experts
Numerous medical societies and healthcare professionals support this initiative and provided data underlining the positive effect on health outcomes of zero separation in neonatal intensive care units. The campaign follows the recommendations of the WHO and is continuously being updated. Campaign material is available in more than 20 languages.
1 World Health Organization, Maintaining essential health services: operational guidance for the COVID-19 context, 1 June 2020, https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/10665-332240 (24.06.2020) | 2 Bergmann, N.J. (2014), The neuroscience of birth – and the case for Zero Separation, Curationis 37(2), Art. #1440, 4. Page https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274587588_The_neuroscience_of_birth_-_and_the_case_for_Zero_Separation (07.09.2020) | 3 World Health Organization, Clinical management of COVID-19: interim guidance, 27 March 2020, p.43 https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/clinical-management-of-covid-19 (25.06.2020)