Baby Boxes Aim To Reduce Cot Deaths 

The baby box programme launched at University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL) will provide free baby boxes for infants to sleep in.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Jimmy Woulfe, Mid-West Correspondent

A Scandinavian baby care concept which has dramatically reduced infant mortalities such as cot deaths in Finland was introduced to Irish mothers-to-be yesterday.

Made from durable cardboard, the box can be used as a baby’s bed for the first eight months of life. The box prevents babies from rolling onto their tummies, which experts say can contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The baby boxes come with a foam mattress, waterproof mattress cover and cotton sheet.

Education material with advice from healthcare professionals on reducing risks to babies, is also included in the baby box pack.

The use of baby boxes has been credited with helping reduce infant mortality rates in Finland from 65 infant deaths per 1,000 births in 1938 to 2.26 per 1,000 births in 2015.

Ireland’s infant mortality rate is 3.7 per 1,000 births.

The concept already adapted in Britain, Canada and the US was introduced to this country yesterday at UMHL, the first Irish maternity hospital to embrace the idea.

As well as the baby boxes, new mothers will be presented with clothing and educational materials.

Dr Mendinaro Imcha, consultant gynaecologist/obstetrician UMHL, said:

“The baby box programme is a proactive approach to improving the health and safety of the newborn child and parents. We are combining tradition with current technology and supporting the newborn child’s family with online education material covering a broad range of essential topics and postnatal care.”

Margaret Gleeson, chief director of nursing and midwifery at the UL hospitals group, said up to 5,000 baby boxes will be distributed to new mothers who give birth at UMHL over the coming year.

Ms Gleeson said: “The baby boxes are a thing of beauty and there is the invaluable education element of this initiative which makes this truly patient-centre.”

Tipperary-based tattoo artist, and expectant mother, Karen Smith did the artistic designs which decorate the UMHL baby boxes.

She said: “The whole meaning behind my design is rebirth. I thought the butterfly was the perfect symbol for the baby box. It is a symbolic creature in many cultures and lends itself to all manner of colourful and fanciful adaptations, in this case our beautiful baby box.”

Jennifer Clery, chief executive of the US-based The Baby Box Co, said: “We are delighted to expand our baby box programme to Ireland and look forward to this new collaboration here in Limerick at the University Maternity Hospital. The baby box is an innovative integrated programme to support parents and improve maternal and infant healthcare outcomes globally.”

UMHL is the second largest maternity hospital in the country, outside Dublin and cares from women from Limerick, Clare, Tipperary, North Kerry, North Cork and areas of Offaly.

Source: Baby boxes aim to reduce cot deaths | Irish Examiner


Finland, Canada and South Korea rank highly for education – Full Fact

By Richard Braham   Sept 16, 2015

In brief


Finland, South Korea and Canada, which all have the most comprehensive systems, have been repeatedly shown to have the best educated children in the world.


Finland, South Korea and Canada have done consistently well in tests that compare 15 year-olds internationally, although these tests aren’t a perfect guide to the relative performance of different education systems. We haven’t seen definitive evidence that the success of these systems is due to the fact they’re comprehensive.

“If you look at the countries that have the best educated children around the world, there are three countries that come up again and again and again… Finland, South Korea and Canada. And they have the most comprehensive systems.”

Alastair Campbell, 15 September 2016

Finland, South Korea and Canada have done consistently well in tests that compare 15-year olds in different countries.

We compared the last three rounds of rankings from 2006, 2009 and 2012. Finland, South Korea and Canada were consistently placed in the top 10 for Science and Reading globally, although Finland and Canada slipped to 12th and 13th for Maths in 2012.

They’re not the only countries that have done consistently well in these tests. Looking at 2009 and 2012, four other regions have scored consistently within the top ten in reading, five others in science and seven others in maths.

As we’ve discussed previously, these tests aren’t a perfect guide to the relative performance of different education systems.

Finland’s state schools are comprehensive and unstreamed until pupils are 16.Canada has mainly comprehensive schools to 18, since the majority of upper secondary schools offer vocational and academic streams. South Korea’s schools are comprehensive until pupils are 15, which is the end of compulsory education.

So far, we haven’t seen any definitive evidence that the success of these systems is due to the fact that their systems are largely comprehensive. We’ll be looking into this further.

Source: Finland, Canada and South Korea rank highly for education – Full Fact

Precarious work drives interest in basic income

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, April 17, 2016 11:11AM EDT


TORONTO — In the mid- to late 1970s, every single person in one rural Manitoba city received $1,255 a year — roughly $7,500 in today’s dollars.

The amount increased depending on the number of people living in each household, maxing out at $3,969, or nearly $23,500 in 2016 currency, for a family of five or more.

The people in the Dauphin, Man., experiment didn’t have to work to receive this stipend. If they did, their benefit dropped 50 cents for every dollar they received.

The residents of Dauphin just had to exist to receive their full guaranteed annual income.

About four decades later, policy-makers and the public in Canada and around the world are eyeing the basic guaranteed income scheme again, buoyed by an evolving labour landscape and technological advances that have left them wondering if today’s social services are enough.

Finland plans to launch a basic income pilot next year. The Swiss will soon vote on unconditional basic income in a referendum.

Closer to home, the Ontario government’s latest budget promises to run a pilot in the future and multiple politicians across Canada have expressed interest in studying the idea.

“I think people are simply looking at the state of the economy and they’re starting to focus on changes that have been taking place for a very long time,” said Evelyn Forget, a professor at the University of Manitoba, who studied the so-called mincome experiment in Dauphin and continues to research data from the pilot.

One of these changes, she said, is that work is no longer a permanent, 9-to-5 gig with health coverage and a pension. Instead, it takes longer for people to land stable employment and many shuffle between short-term contracts without such benefits, she said.

In the Greater Toronto Area, for example, 60 per cent of workers have stable, secure jobs, according to a 2013 report on precarious work. Insecure employment has spread beyond jobs in the service sector to the white-collar workforce as well, a followup report found.

This changing labour force is prompting people to rethink how governments deliver social programs, said Forget, and realize that current solutions like income assistance are expensive and for the most part, ineffective.

“I think tensions are building in our society,” said Wayne Lewchuk, a McMaster University professor of economics and labour studies, who co-authored both reports in conjunction with United Way Toronto & York Region.

“More and more people are questioning … the wisdom of how we’re organizing our labour markets and our economy.”

Lower wages and precarious employment lower a person’s purchasing power, he said, and more people spending less negatively effects the economy.

A guaranteed basic income could be a way to prime the economic pump, Lewchuk said.

Another change in the workforce could come from technological advancements that will eliminate jobs, some basic income advocates argue.

Millions of positions will be lost over the next several years thanks to disruptive labour market changes, according to a World Economic Forum report published this year.

No job is safe from machine-outsourcing, writes Scott Santens, a basic income advocate who lives in the U.S. off of a crowdfunded monthly basic income.

He argues people need to prepare for a world where their income isn’t dependent on the jobs machines can do, but instead should be given a stipend to sustain themselves while doing the kind of work they still find valuable.

Forget believes it is a matter of continued public interest and political will for basic income to become reality.

“I think it’s almost inevitable, eventually, that this kind of a policy will be implemented.”

Source: Precarious work drives interest in basic income | CTV News