Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa has entered into a long-term partnership with the Kenya Pediatric Research Consortium (KEPRECON) to support neonatal resuscitation training program for pediatric nurses and midwives to help improve the current statistics on neonatal deaths in the country.
The training began in Nairobi today at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital where midwives and nurses working in the newborn units of major hospitals including Gertrudes, Mater Hospital, Nairobi South, Coptic Hospital, St. Francis, Agakhan University Hospital, Nairobi Women’s Hospital, Jamaa and Eastleigh Health Center were in attendance. This training will be extended to Mombasa and Eldoret and 100 health care professionals will be trained.
“Neonatal Resuscitation is intervention after a baby is born to help it breathe and to help its heart beat. Currently, neonatal deaths in Kenya stand at 22 per 1,000 live births and we hope this partnership along with other initiatives currently in place by the Ministry of Health will contribute to minimize the damning statistics. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that there are more than one million newborn deaths in Africa every day,” said Professor Fredrick Were, Dean Faculty of Medicine at The University of Nairobi, and a member of the Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa board.
Speaking while opening the first training session, Dr. Catherine Mutinda, the Clinical Head of Pumwani Maternity Hospital said that although the need for neonatal resuscitation is not predictable, the right skills and knowledge plus simple equipment can save many newborn lives.
“Anyone who delivers babies should be able to provide simple resuscitation if needed. This training will focus on equipping the newborn unit specialists on resuscitation at birth, keeping the baby warm, neonatal infections and standards of care, breastfeeding and cord care, jaundice and convulsions and prematurity and low birth weight baby,” said Dr. Catherine Mutinda.
Kenya is ranked 10th globally in neonatal deaths alone making it one of the riskiest places for mothers to deliver in. According to World Health Organization, in Kenya, neonatal deaths account for 60 percent of the overall infant mortality and despite neonatal mortality representing a significant part of infant mortality in the country, not so much focus has been given to neonatal mortality and the contributing factors.
“Reducing neonatal mortality is crucial to achieve further gains in child survival and that is why we are teaming up with Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa to help in addressing these issues. Currently, 30% of neonatal deaths occur in the first 24hours of life while the rest occur in the first week of life and 35% of under-5 deaths occur during the neonatal period. One third of all neonatal deaths are due to severe infections (including Pneumonia, tetanus and diarrhea) followed by birth asphyxia, preterm births and congenital anomalies,” said Mr. Jason Kiruja, ETAT Clinical Manager at Kenya Pediatric Research Consortium (KEPRECON).
“28percent of child deaths in Kenya are newborns and therefore the sustainable development goal number 3 cannot be met without addressing neonatal deaths.”
Although 56% of Kenyan women deliver at home, the Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa and KEPRECON would like to see 100percent success in the 44% of births which are assisted by a health care professional (doctors, nurses and midwives).
“The rates of antenatal care and skilled birth attendance have declined over the past 10 years, particularly among the poor and we hope this partnership will go a long way in helping tackle this issue as well,” said Professor Were.
The neonatal resuscitation training program content is adopted from WHO essential neonatal care, ETAT+ and evidence based approaches.