West Africa has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world*
*25 babies per 1,000 live births die in their first month of life. This is ten times the infant mortality rates of high income countries.
We hope to bring this rate down by teaching the Neonatal Care Course to local midwives, nurses and doctors and by training local instructors to continue this work in the future.
The Newborn Care Course was put together by two UK charities, the Advanced Life Support Group and MCAI (Maternal and Childhealth Advocacy International) and then further honed by the instructors with input from learners’ feedback.
Material covered is extensive:
- newborn life support
- skin-to-skin mother care
- recognition of the sick baby
- feeding the premature baby
- managing the dying baby
- use of the oxygen concentrator
- homemade bubble CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) for respiratory support of premature and sick babies (short prongs are positioned in the baby’s nose, and air or oxygen is blown in at a constant pressure. The baby does all of his/her own breathing, but the pressure provided by the oxygen tubing in a bottle of mineral water helps keep the lungs open in between breaths).
- handwashing and infection control
Teaching methods include:
- small group workshops
- low fidelity simulation scenarios
- skills stations
The learners are used to lectures and also speak up freely in small group workshops, giving us as instructors an invaluable glimpse into their working lives. Scenario teaching and the skills stations are new to them as teaching methods, and were a little intimidating to some initially.
One candidate wrote I panic a little because was under supervision. People were around me to see my errors.
However, they learnt to help each other and feedback from the courses has shown that the learners now feel more confident in their knowledge of newborn care.
To date, around 200 midwives and nurses from a variety of different hospital and community settings, some government and some faith based, have completed the formal Neonatal Care Course in Cameroon and around 70 in Liberia. In addition we have been able to give some impromptu training to 70 nursing and midwifery students and also to medical students.
The courses are taught in English in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon (which are Anglophone) and currently in the capital, Yaounde, because of sociopolitical unrest in the country. Some of the candidates In Cameroon have been French speakers and have been helped by one of our instructors who can also teach in French.