UNICEF donates more than 5,000 neonatology items to the Public Health Ministry
UNICEF donates more than 5,000 neonatology items to the Public Health MinistryWith the aim of improving the quality of mother and baby care in 14 hospitals in the DR-Haiti border region, on Wednesday 15th February UNICEF delivered more than 5,000 neonatology items to the Ministry of Health. The donated equipment included incubators, laryngoscopes, ventilators, neonatal stethoscopes, cardiac and respiratory frequency monitors, and phototherapy lamps.
Deputy Public Health Minister Dr. Nelson Monegro highlighted the importance of the donation and stated: “Infant mortality is a priority health issue in the Dominican Republic”. He also expressed his commitment to the correct use of the donated resources.
Worldwide, some five million newborn babies die each year, 98% of them in developing countries. According to the WHO, in developing countries between 30 and 40 per cent of neonatal deaths are caused by infections contracted during childbirth, immediately after birth and during the first few days of life. Newborn survival and health is crucial for reducing infant mortality, as set out in MDG 4.
The handover was led by UNICEF’s Representative in the country, Mrs. María Jesús Conde Zabala, who said: “The provision of equipment and materials for newborn and neonatal care, as well as staff training and the production of national guides and procedures will contribute to improving the quality of hospital care and services along the border”.
On 21 and 22 February we made the first delivery of neonatology equipment to hospitals in the towns of Neyba, Jimaní, Barahona and Pedernales. The arrival of the equipment was received with great enthusiasm in each hospital, as these items fill a major gap in newborn immediate care. For example, a transport incubator that enables a newborn to be taken to hospitals with more sophisticated equipment in conditions where temperature, oxygen and vital signs are monitored is a lifesaver.
Although we arrived at the hospital in Barahona very late in the afternoon, we had the opportunity to see the neonatology unit doctors, who, as soon as they heard we were there, all went to the hospital to receive the equipment in the company of the Hospital Directors and the Regional Health Board directors. At 6:40 pm when the truck approached the unloading area, the doctors who were waiting started unpacking the boxes and all we heard from them were expressions of joy, calling out each to other and repeating thank you, thank you…
With support from the international community, the Dominican Republic Ministry of Health has been carrying out a series of interventions aimed at providing universal access and improving the quality of care during pregnancy, childbirth and post-childbirth, which will have a positive impact on reducing neonatal mortality.
This provision of newborn care equipment and materials is in the framework of the appeal that UNICEF made to the international community immediately after the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010.
The total sum invested by UNICEF in the purchase of this equipment exceeds RD$14,500,000. Once the items are in place, UNICEF will support the final production of the clinical guides on newborn care as well as strengthening the technical skills of health personnel in charge of these services.
This donation will contribute to improving interventions aimed at reducing infant mortality in the Dominican Republic. It will also contribute to the establishment of new neonatology wards in Elías Piña, El Cercado and Esperanza. Assisted ventilation and additional equipment will be installed in hospitals in Neiba, Jimaní, Barahona, Santiago Rodríguez, Azua and San Juan de la Maguana. The donation will also benefit Barahona, Pedernales, Valverde, Monte Cristi and Dajabón.
Neonatal Mortality Data
The National Epidemiological Vigilance System reveals that between 25 and 30% of newborns die of neonatal bacterial sepsis, and along with Respiratory Distress (23%) it occupies first place among causes of neonatal death.