Mar 4, 2013

A good start for Aussie babies

Healthcare is one of the things that a country needs to get right. When it doesn't, health and life becomes a privilege of the rich. In Malaysia, I and Hubs have had our struggles with the healthcare system - and with growing medical costs, a weak currency and a situation where only a small proportion of the population pay taxes, I fear the state of public healthcare can only worsen.  

My only exposure to the public healthcare system here is the maternity and childcare support, but I'm so far impressed. Giving birth is only the beginning... ensuring the baby thrives, and breastfeeding continues and the mother recovers well, takes an even bigger, concerted effort. Beyond the basic exams, the baby was tested for hearing (an interesting test which involves detecting brain waves in a newborn), and a variety of blood disorders, and the pediatrician treated her for jaundice. In Malaysia, as a new mother, I paid for a midwife to do three home visits after being discharged from hospital. Here, the Midwifery Support program does this. They visit you in your house, weigh the baby, assess nursing, and answer any questions you might have. What was amazing was that that they were not just doing a job, but that they truly cared for the positive outcome of mother and child. After the home midwifery support was done, the lactation consultant from the hospital rang me a week later to see how I was going on. (All this is free, for those with Medicare!) My OB's nurse also rang me two weeks postpartum.

Then, I had a home visit from a midwife from the Early Childhood centre. This is a free service provided to parents/carers by NSW Health. The visiting midwife assessed the babe, and the parents'(primarily mother's) wellbeing as well, with the logic that well-adjusted and emotionally, physically and financially healthy parents make for a healthy babe. Parents can access this service, which offers parents individualised consultations on parenting and child issues, until the child is four years old. (Number 3's next assessment is at 2 months old) The philosophy is that early detection of problems, and proper management, leads to a better outcome. What a luxury, when healthcare can go into prevention and management, rather than just treatment! 

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