News Story

Saving Infant Lives in Ghana

During a five-day series of lectures, tests and practical sessions, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently sponsored and provided successful neonatal resuscitation training to more than 100 doctors, nurses and midwives in Ghana.

The World Health Organization estimates that 1 million newborns die each year of breathing difficulties. Proper neonatal resuscitation training (NRT) is crucial to prevent this tragedy, and it requires careful planning and implementation.  

LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of the Church, has been sending a number of volunteers to teach health care providers in developing countries the skills they need to help these babies breathe.

Using the “train-the-trainer” approach, a team of three LDS Charities medical specialists instructed 32 physicians from hospitals and clinics throughout Ghana in an advanced course of newborn resuscitation techniques.

These doctors will, in turn, train other physicians within their jurisdiction, using training materials and clinical equipment provided by the Church.

The visiting medical team, with the help of some of the earlier-trained Ghanaian practitioners, also taught proper lifesaving skills to 70 nurses and midwives, side by side, using a newer level of training called “Helping Babies Breathe (HBB)”.  

“One of the most impressive parts of this project was the quality of the core nucleus of Ghanaian trainers,” said Dr. George Groberg, one of the neonatal specialists training in Ghana.        

“It seemed they had a sense of ownership and were already in position where they had access to a network of health care in the nation and they were well respected in their roles,” he added.

A key concept of HBB is “The Golden Minute”: Within one minute of birth, a baby should be breathing well or should be ventilated with a bag and mask. The Golden Minute identifies the steps a birth attendant must take immediately after birth to evaluate the baby and stimulate breathing.

Part of the comprehensive training included realistic newborn simulators (manikins) with ability to imitate an umbilical pulse, bag-mask ventilators, and new-style nose and mouth bulb suction devices that can be cleaned by boiling or autoclave.

Easily transportable bags of training equipment were donated to participants so they may effectively train others. At least one hand-operated resuscitator was provided for each clinical setting to ensure the new techniques can be applied.

Each person who attended the training was encouraged to train ten other people so that the training can reach as many people as possible and have a more effective impact.

Isaac Ferguson, technical specialist for the NRT and HBB training in Ghana, said that three Ghanaian doctors from the Paediatric Society of Ghana (PSOG) were impressive contributors and made sure the results of the training were realized.

Dr. Joycelyn Dame Assimeng, NRT program coordinator, responded to concerns and followed up on details of the program.

Dr. Nana Okai Brako, Local NRT champion, spent the entire week teaching and coaching on NRT principles and creating a sense of urgency about getting out to train others.

Dr. Ebenezer Badoe, PSOG President, coordinated with the entire medical community in Ghana to make the program successful. He encouraged participants to come from all regions of Ghana.

“Every child has the right to the best possible start in life,” emphasized Dr. Badoe. “The training has already had a positive impact on both the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service senior personnel by renewing their energies to train more people in neonatal resuscitation.”

Midwives, nurses and doctors who are responsible for the care of new babies feel very keenly the joy of success when they are able to help new babies breathe and the pain of failure when they cannot.

“This training has been very valuable,” said Serwah Amoah, a nurse at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. “It has equipped us to make a change in our practice. The skills acquired will enable us to deliver quality care.”

Elder Edward Dube, a senior leader of the Church in the West Africa area, congratulated the participants for taking time to attend the training course to gain important skills in helping to decrease Ghana’s infant mortality rate.

Local dignitaries attending the closing ceremony included Dr. Linda Vanotoo, Medical Director, Greater Accra Region; and Sarah Bamfo, Deputy Director, Clinical Care, Greater Accra Region.

“When you go back to your work places,” remarked Dr. Vanotoo to the participants of the training, “please tell people what you have learned. We want to wish you well in helping babies survive. We are all champions of babies in Ghana.”

A Ghanaian online news website, GraphicOnline, also published a story on the Church's neonatal resuscitation training in Ghana. The full article can be found here.



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