By Kate Bensiah
Nestlé is tackling infant mortality in Central and West Africa with a series of workshops on neonatal resuscitation.
The company has led Neonatal Resuscitation programmes since 2012 to provide healthcare professionals, including paediatricians, general practitioners, nurses and midwives across the region,with the skills to save newborn babies after birth by providing artificial respiration.
Training includes simple actions such as drying, providing warmth,clearing the airways, stimulating breathing and giving bag and mask ventilation within the one ‘golden minute’ of life to save babies’ lives.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) about one quarter of all neonatal deaths globally are caused by birth asphyxia, making it one of the top three causes of neonatal deaths.
Worryingly, Central and West Africa has the highest rate of infant mortality worldwide, where one in eight infants die under the age of five.
Premature births and low birth weight are two complications in pregnancy that may require neonatal resuscitation skills. The effective delivery of such interventions to help babies breathe at birth can help prevent a large number of infant deaths.
Neonatal resuscitation skills are extremely important in low resource settings where access to antenatal care is poor and the incidence, mortality and burden of long-term affects from birth asphyxia is high.
To address this issue, Nestlé is working with professional associations and healthcare institutions like the Nigeria Medical Association, the Midwives Associations of Cameroon and the Paediatric Department of the Volta Regional Hospital in Ghana to run Neonatal Resuscitation workshops.
Training is also organised in partnership with the Swiss Society of Neonatology, the Ministry of Health and the Association of Francophone Paediatricians in Africa (APANF) in French-speaking countries.
Such workshops have already taken place in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana and Nigeria.
To date, over 4,000 healthcare professionals in Central and West Africa have been trained to reduce neonatal asphyxia and mortality in children aged under five.
About 60 neonatalresuscitation kits and 300 bag valve masks, or manual resuscitators, havebeen donated by Nestlé to each respective Ministry of Health in Cameroon andNigeria. A video clip has also been released to train more healthcare professionals.
“We appreciate Nestlé’s support to help healthcare professionals contribute to infant survival through these neonatal workshops,” said Dr Chiedozie Achonwa, consultant paediatrician and Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association.
Nestlé’s efforts to address infant mortality is part of its commitment to provide education programmes to healthcare professionals to benefit maternal, infant and young child nutrition and health,and continue to reduce newborn mortality rates in Central and West Africa.
It is also part of the company’s pledge in theregion to meet the United Nations Development Programme’s fourth Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to Reduce Child Mortality by reducing the under-five mortality rate by two thirds between 1990 and 2015.