Fulfilling the need for neonatal resuscitation education

By Lia Harris, MedGlobal volunteer

As a general pediatrician and Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) instructor from Canada, I can’t help but see a need for newborn resuscitation education in refugee camps. After volunteering with MedGlobal in the Rohingya refugee camp, near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh on April 2018 and seeing that about 50% of pregnant women have access to facilities for deliveries and the facilities are basic and poorly-equipped. Neonatal morbidity and mortality are high in the refugee camp. 

Several MedGlobal volunteers and I took the Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) Master Trainer course. We then organized a dedicated mission to provide training to local midwives, physicians, and traditional birth attendants, in partnership with UNFPA.

In June 2019, six master trainers (including myself) from the United States and Canada taught over 30 skilled birth attendants to be HBB instructors. We then observed as they taught over 200 of their colleagues the skills of HBB. Some of the exceptional instructors will be mentored to become master trainers.

One of the greatest successes of the course was partnering with UNFPA, who continues to mentor and supervise the midwives in the facilities and provides ongoing support. MedGlobal donated 36 instructor kits to UNFPA partner facilities for continued education and 65 resuscitation kits for delivery rooms.

Another success was having material translated into Bangla – and it could not have happened without the HBS administration. Save the Children previously translated the written material – but it was not available during mission planning. With the help of HBS administration, the Bangla translation has since been uploaded to the HBS International Resources website and made available to everyone! Although our midwife students could theoretically read and speak English, it was much easier for them to work in their native language. 

What would we do differently? We would not have scheduled the course so soon after the Muslim holiday, Eid al-Fitr, in a Muslim majority country. Many of the participant organizations indicated that they had difficulty enlisting students because many were on holiday. Unfortunately, after the first few days of training were so successful, participant organizations then sent EXTRA participants for the last few days. We did not turn away any participants and managed to teach everyone. It was chaotic, busy, exhausting, and fun!

Special thanks to Sabrina Memorial Foundation and our partner UNFPA. Support future missions to teach Helping Babies Breathe by donating today!