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Protecting Early Lives: Enhanced Support for Small and At-Risk Newborns

Props like NeoNatalie help frontline nurses practice essential emergency care skills, like newborn resuscitation, during facility-based ‘drills’ conducted as part of Jacaranda’s MENTORS program. Photo by Allan Gichigi.
Props like NeoNatalie help frontline nurses practice essential emergency care skills, like newborn resuscitation, during facility-based ‘drills’ conducted as part of Jacaranda’s MENTORS program. Photo by Allan Gichigi.
Props like NeoNatalie help frontline nurses practice essential emergency care skills, like newborn resuscitation, during facility-based ‘drills’ conducted as part of Jacaranda’s MENTORS program. Photo by Allan Gichigi.
Props like NeoNatalie help frontline nurses practice essential emergency care skills, like newborn resuscitation, during facility-based ‘drills’ conducted as part of Jacaranda’s MENTORS program. Photo by Allan Gichigi.

Nyeri – Emily didn’t have much experience in newborn complications before Jacaranda’s mentorship program reached her maternity ward at the Mary Immaculate Hospital. When situations escalated, her colleagues, often more senior nurses, would be called in to assist – and even then there was no guarantee that the baby would survive.

In July, this changed. Routine CME’s (Continuing Medical Education) on various emergency scenarios were introduced to her ward, helping routinely reinforce the core principles of detection and response, and the cross-sharing of provider experiences. Emily was taken through the steps of newborn resuscitation by one of her colleagues – a mentor in Jacaranda’s MENTORS program – and was challenged to ask questions about the process.

The same week, Emily had the opportunity to put these skills into practice. After monitoring a dropping fetal heart rate, she delivered a non-responsive baby. Immediately, she kicked into action – cutting the umbilical cord and beginning resuscitation. At first, the heart rate didn’t rise. But after applying chest compressions and breaths in the cycles she’d been taught, the baby started breathing and crying. ‘I never thought I’d like the sound of a crying baby so much!’ she explained, after the baby had been dried and returned to its mother.

Short-format, continuous, and onsite training helps maintain the time nurses like Emily spend providing services to their patients – especially in busy wards like the Mary Immaculate – and ensures theoretical learning can be immediately applied in practice.

While MENTORS has historically focussed on upskilling nurses in EmONC (with a module on neonatal resuscitation), we’ve recently begun piloting a new newborn training package to help our network of frontline nurses competently handle the majority of newborn complications. The content – which includes simulation-based exercises on neonatal resuscitation, emergency management and infection prevention – was informed by MoH newborn care protocols and provider-identified gaps from a CIFF-supported pilot study. The combination of national endorsement and strong county buy-in for the package (ie. having training facilitated by both Jacaranda and county representatives) is a strong indication of its early adoption within a wider national mentorship package over the coming months.

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