“Breathe, Baby, Breathe!” Why I am joining MedGlobal on a mission to teach neonatal resuscitation in Pakistan

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By Dr. Paul Holtrop

By Dr. Paul Holtrop

Neonatologist

Breathe, baby breathe! Imagine being at the delivery of a baby that you are assigned to care for – and that the baby does not breathe when born. If you are trained in what to do and have the right equipment to do so, you can usually help the baby out pretty well. But if you don’t know what to do, things can go sour quickly and have far-reaching consequences for the baby. You might find yourself uttering the above words, which are not particularly helpful. 

And that is why I am going on a medical mission to Pakistan to help teach neonatal resuscitation.  

I am a Neonatologist who, after practicing in the U.S.A. for many years, now has time to help in countries in need. In November 2019, I will be in Pakistan with MedGlobal teaching neonatal resuscitation skills to physicians and midwives in a program called Helping Babies Breathe. 

Pakistan has a high infant mortality rate – the number of babies who die in the first year of life is 61 per 1,000 – ten times higher than the rate in the United States.  Most babies, when born, start breathing on their own or with a little stimulation shortly after birth. However, some kids – about 10% – are a little unclear on this concept and need resuscitation to start breathing, and skillful resuscitation can make a big difference in the outcome for that baby.  

To help address this, MedGlobal is sending a team to Karachi, Pakistan, with a four pronged mission. One of these is Helping Babies Breathe, which teaches good resuscitation practices. The other focuses of the mission are prenatal ultrasound for expectant mothers; adult ultrasound skills for all adults; and teaching empathy for patients. Please note that this is a teaching mission. We are not simply going in for a week and caring for patients and then coming back.  Rather, we are training people there to provide this care and also train other people there. To borrow from an old proverb, we aren’t just giving someone a fish; we are teaching them to fish, and teaching them how to teach others to fish.  

The cost of the equipment for the mission is $30,000 and so far we have raised $10,000.  Equipment used includes baby training mannequins, with the catchy name of NeoNatalie, as well as bags and masks – equipment used to help babies breathe when they don’t do it on their own. Other equipment needed includes ultrasound probes, those things that tickle you when you get an ultrasound, and other miscellaneous equipment.  

MedGlobal is a good organization. 92.4% of their budget goes to programs, with only 4.3% to administration and 3.3 % to fundraising. I understand that there are many other good charities out there, but please consider this one – and the babies whose lives will be improved by it.  

So, take a breath and decide whether you want to donate. If you wish to do so, please click below to donate! For $20, you can supply Pakistan with a newborn resuscitation mask that will be used when saying, “Breathe, Baby, Breathe!”  

The only downside of the trip that I can see? The temperature in Karachi in November is supposed to be in the mid-nineties. Yikes!

 

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