“Thanks to these practical sessions, our healthcare team has acquired new skills”
UNICEF supports the strengthening of capacities among medical workers in district hospitals to manage qualitative neonatal emergency care.
"We handle between 15 and 20 cases of preterm birth per year. Managing these cases is always challenging and requires specific knowledge, skills, and equipment," says Angela Turcanu, head of the Neonatal Section at Orhei district hospital, who recently participated in a training program focused on neonatal emergencies and resuscitation.
Orhei district hospital is one of the seven healthcare facilities in Moldova where the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and CUAMM, has organized a training to build the capacities of the healthcare workers in the management of neonatal emergencies and strengthen their skills for resuscitation procedures. Approximately 1,200 births are registered at Orhei Regional Hospital annually, accounting for more than 4% of the total number of births in Moldova. Although the country has seen a decline in infant mortality rate - from 26% in 2010 to 14.2% in 2022 - these rates remain above the European regional average, according to World Health Organization (WHO) reports.
"Thanks to these practical sessions, our healthcare team has not only acquired new skills but also strengthened existing competencies in neonatal care," says Angela Turcanu.
Another priority of this program has been to prepare a new cohort of trainers to contribute to the continuing education of healthcare workers. Specifically, the training has been conducted in multiple phases. In the first phase, more than 100 healthcare providers attended seven sessions led by national and international experts. Fourteen of them were selected for additional training to become trainers themselves. The final phase involved an experience-sharing program at the Mother and Child Center in Chisinau to consolidate their practical skills. Additionally, within the partnership with CUAMM, UNICEF equipped eight regional hospitals with simulation mannequins, warmers, medical kits, and other essential supplies for effectively managing neonatal emergencies. This additional support is to fortify hospitals' long-term capacities and ensure the initiative's ongoing impact.
Anastasia Tean, a neonatology specialist, and trainer in the program, believes sufficient and qualified personnel is essential for the health of mothers and newborns. "There are only a few neonatologists in district healthcare facilities, therefore, the system would be more efficient if all healthcare professionals were skilled in performing neonatal resuscitation. That's the primary reason behind this training initiative - to empower every healthcare worker to provide emergency neonatal care, including procedures like intubation," says Tean.
"We used to think we knew how to manage these situations, but this training has strengthened our knowledge and skills. It emphasizes the need for continuous learning," says Angela Turcanu, another participant in the training.
The training program was developed and executed in response to the Ukraine refugee crisis and the escalating demand for medical services for mothers and newborns, including in difficult situations. Since the beginning of the war, UNICEF has supported the healthcare system in Moldova to provide free health services for refugee children and their families. UNICEF secured 50 million lei to provide refugee children from Ukraine with free medical services in Moldova. Additionally, UNICEF provided medical equipment, including incubators and other supportive equipment worth 342,000 USD, to improve critical medical services offered to refugee mothers and their newborns within the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.