L- R: Head of Nutrition, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Chris Isokpunwu; Maria Owoniyi and Former President of Dietitians Association of Nigeria, Dr Chika Ndiokwelu, at the “Maternal and Child Nutrition Symposium, tapping into the window of opportunity in the 1000 days of life” organized by Nestle Nigerian Plc for health practitioners in Lagos today.
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.