Every year, about 150 Belarusian children die as a result of accidents, most often due to parental neglect.
To prevent this tragedy, the EU-funded initiative ‘Children in safety’ has developed some simple rules for parents to follow, which are being shared by experts in maternity hospitals in Belarus.
Accidents are most widespread
Accidents, injuries and poisoning are the main external causes of death among children in Belarus, making up about 6.5% of deaths among infants, 40% among children aged one to four, and more than 67% among adolescents (15–17 years old).
Natalya Navrotskaya, doctor, mother of three, and head of the Centre for Maternal and Child Support, decided to do something about this. She presented her initiative ‘Children in safety’ in a competition for local initiatives that aim to promote healthy lifestyle and prevent non-communicable diseases, and ended up winning a grant of €35,000. The competition was organised within the framework of the EU project BELMED.
Natalya’s initiative includes several actions, one of which are lectures for expectant mothers at the Clinical Maternity Hospital of Minsk Region on creating a safe home environment and preventing child injuries.
Parental control is crucial
The online newspaper Naviny.by attended one of the classes for pregnant women, where Natalya showed expectant mothers what objects could potentially be dangerous for children in an ordinary city apartment and how to avoid them.
Tatyana Frantskevich from Salihorsk is expecting her eighth child. She has six boys (the eldest is 15 years old) and a girl, who is turning three soon.
Tatyana thought she knew everything about raising children, but when she attended Natalya's lecture, she heard many things for the first time:
"I have never been to an event like this before. My knowledge comes from books and experience. It seems like life is changing, and there are more and more objects from which we need to protect our children. I think control over our kids today should be stricter than ever."
Tatyana’s opinion is also confirmed by a study conducted by the National Statistical Committee of the Republic of Belarus. Around 3.6% of children under the age of five have been left at home at some point under the supervision of another child under the age of 10, and about 1% have been left at home alone, which increases the likelihood of injury and death.
A centre for teaching parents how to create a safe home environment has opened in the maternity hospital, with one of the rooms modelled as a modern apartment, so parents can clearly see what they need to do to protect their children. Following this action, the hospital is also considering to participate in the ‘Children in safety’ initiative.
Natalya’s idea has spread to other districts of the Minsk region. Health professionals are receiving training on how to teach expectant mothers to child-proof their homes, and mobile safety corners will be installed in hospitals in the Minsk region, Barysaŭ, Maladziečna and Salihorsk.
Finally, a special web resource is on the way, containing an interactive map and video tutorials on how to create a safe home environment. In addition, the mobile app of the Ministry of Emergency Situations will have a section for young parents, where they can learn how to react to specific problems with their children and who to contact for help.
Author: Elena Spasyuk
Article published in Russian by Naviny.by