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Expert seeks end to neonatal deaths

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By Dayo Ojerinde
A Neonatologist and Head of Hospital Services, Obijackson Women and Children Hospital, Dr Ikechukwu Okonkwo, has said most neonatal deaths are from preventable causes.
The expert said this at the hospital’s Newborn Respiratory Support Workshop held recently, calling for immediate adoption of a national neonatal respiratory support policy and plan in Nigeria.

The practitioners in attendance included doctors and nurses from the South-East and South-South regions of the country, according to a statement by the hospital.
He said, “Most of the neonatal deaths are from preventable causes. Improving respiratory support for our most vulnerable population will significantly impact the three leading causes of neonatal and infant deaths; preterm birth, intra partum related events (previously called perinatal asphyxia) and infections which are all accompanied by degrees of breathing difficulties.

“These three major causes of neonatal mortality accounting for 85 per cent of deaths were covered extensively in this comprehensive workshop. This high-level skill acquisition training addressed the healthcare system from top to bottom.
“We have consultants, doctors and nurses here to learn new ways to save babies, and afterward they will teach others in their hospitals and medical facilities on how to care for the newborn babies all with the goal of reducing neonatal mortality.”

A Neonatologist and Paediatrician at the hospital, Dr Chinelo Madueze, presented the topic ‘Newborn Resuscitation; Principles, Practice and Solution for LRS.’
She noted that a lot of neonatal deaths were due to intra-partum related events (previously called perinatal asphyxia).

“This results in respiratory failure, a situation where a newborn baby can neither breathe nor cry at birth. The aim of the training was to better equip health care practitioners in evidence-based neonatal resuscitation, especially in low resources centers. This will result in skilled attendants being available and ready to provide expert care to all babies at the time of birth and assist them in breathing.

“Ventilation of the lungs is the most important thing to do when babies are born. Obstetricians and other health care professionals present during childbirth must be able to help all newborn babies who do not cry or breathe at birth to breathe within one minute of life to prevent irreversible brain damage and death. The knowledge and skills acquired from this workshop will help to reduce neonatal deaths nationally and globally,’’ Madueze said.
A participant, Dr. Ileli Sheila, from Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Edo State, said she came to the workshop to learn how she could do her part to make a difference and improve the survival of Nigerian babies.

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