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Child deaths in Samarkand hospitals drop rapidly through joint EC and UNICEF support.

© UNICEF/Uzbekistan/2009
Better diagnoses and improved emergency care is saving young lives in Samarkand.

By Matthew Taylor

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, August 6, 2009 -  A baby boy was recently rushed into Samarkand’s Paediatric Hospital Number 1. He was in shock, dehydrated and his arms and legs were cold.

Dr. Turaev ran rapid all round checks in the entrance hall, provided oxygen, intravenous rehydration and sent him on to the intensive care unit (ICU). ‘Before we would have sent him straight down to the ICU,’ he says, ‘now I’m able to start life saving care faster.’

In an emergency, seconds can mean the difference between life and death.

Joint Ministry of Health, UNICEF and European Commission training is making these seconds count. Medical professionals from Samarkand and 7 other Uzbek’ regions are being trained in the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI).  These are low cost, high impact World Health Organisation care techniques.

IMCI training and guidelines help medical professionals swiftly spot and treat dangerous childhood conditions. By following clear, simple procedures, doctors can save more lives and avoid prescribing unnecessary drugs.

In the Samarkand hospital IMCI techniques have helped cut infant mortality. ‘In the first quarter of 2008,’ says Chief Doctor Azizov, ’28 of 370 children that came in died. In quarter one of 2009, after the introduction of IMCI, we lost only 12 out of 378.’

IMCI is just one element in a huge maternal and child health care reform project that will see over 12,000 health professionals trained by late 2010. Seventeen new training centres are also being refurbished and equipped. The project kicked off in July 2008 and the European Commission is providing 3.5 million Euro of a total budget of 3.8 million.

Saving time, saving lives

Respiratory diseases like pneumonia are major child killers in Samarkand.  Doctor Azizov says that doctors now diagnose these faster and more accurately. ‘They now diagnose pneumonia through monitoring the child’s breathing; how regular breaths are and the way they breathe. ’ he says. ‘This means we get the kids to the best place for targeted treatment much quicker.’

With doctors better able to diagnose and treat, new triage systems have been put in place. On entering the hospital, children are checked and given red, yellow or green ribbons. Reds are priorities and are swiftly whisked off to specialists.  

And mothers are now encouraged to help cure their own children. They’re also kept together while complications are being treated; as a calm child is a far easier child to care for.

The new practices are now included into budding doctors university curricula, so when the training stops, the knowledge keeps saving lives.







UNICEF correspondent Guy Degen reports on efforts to improve maternal health in Uzbekistan.

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The big picture

Three and a half thousand medical professionals are now trained in new life saving skills.


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