Over 500 new babies born every day in Vietnam need some form of neonatal care. Of these, one-third are born too soon and too small, and two-thirds are born sick.
Although Vietnam has made much progress with reducing infant mortality rates, work still needs to be done to reduce deaths during the first day or month of life. Like any developing, middle-income country, Vietnam is somewhat behind the curve in neonatal care. Outside of high-income settings there are almost no formal neonatal nursing training programmes as well as no structured post-qualification training for junior doctors.
This is illustrated by the fact that three quarters of all infant deaths here are within the first month of life. This compares to a global average of 44 percent.
Creating a Partnership
British charity, Newborns Vietnam, has been working hard to change this. Based in Vietnam, since 2012 they have been working in collaboration with the Danang Department of Health and the Danang Hospital for Women and Children, providing specialist neonatal nurse training and post-graduate clinical training for junior doctors. The training is practically based and is provided by leading British experts who represent the best that the UK has to offer in this specialist area of medicine.
The results have been impressive. Between 2012 and 2016 there was a 50 percent reduction in neonatal mortality, and a 20 percent reduction in deaths by infection.
Following this success, in February 2017 the programme was extended to the Vietnam National Children’s Hospital, Hanoi (VNCH). It was launched by Nguyen Viet Tien, the Vice Minister of Health.
“The journey to high quality neonatal care in the UK took nearly 50 years,” says Suzanna Lubran, executive director of Newborns Vietnam. “We are working with local departments, such as the Danang Department of Health, to share the knowledge of British doctors and nurses.”
A Growing Presence
The recent partnership with VNCH in Hanoi has meant that Newborns Vietnam’s presence has begun to expand nationally. They already provide postgraduate training to doctors there and from 2018, the NGO has plans to extend its educational programme to specialist neonatal nurse training.
Newborns also provide support with basic care needs and infection protection programmes to rural hospitals who refer cases to VNCH. This is all part of an ambitious collaboration with the Ministry of Health to review neonatal services in the provinces. The goal is to develop a neonatal network system that provides different levels of good quality care that meet the needs of newborns, from those that need a little help to those that need very high levels of intensive care. This will ensure that every baby gets the best possible start in life.
With improvements already made, and the ongoing collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Newborns Vietnam will be stopping at nothing to address some of the serious issues that exist.
According to Suzanna, the key message behind Newborns is the “passionate belief that every child, no matter where in the world they are born, deserves the chance to celebrate his or her first birthday and to grow into a healthy, independent adult who can contribute to society without being burdened by the adverse effects on the first day or weeks of their life.”
She adds: “Our partnership work with the public sector would not be possible without the support of our wonderful sponsors, donors, supporters and volunteers.”
For more info on Newborns Vietnam, to help with fundraising or provide a donation, please click on newbornsvietnam.org
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY NEWBORNS VIETNAM