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Training of Health Professionals in Neonatal Life Support

In partnership with the Family Health Bureau of Sri Lanka, Perinatal Society of Sri Lanka, the Resuscitation Council of UK, supported by UNICEF 

Colombo, 12 September 2006 – A four day Neonatal Life Support Training Programme for core health professionals at national level, is currently being conducted at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital in Colombo from the 12th -15th September.

This programme, the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, is being conducted by seven experts in neonatology from the UK. It aims to build the capacity (skills in neonatal resuscitation) of 64 consultant pediatricians, 12 senior registrars and 4 medical officers in neonatal units throughout the island. At the end of the training, the participants will conduct similar training programmes in 15 training centres attached to two teaching hospitals and 13 provincial hospitals, throughout the country which currently handle 70-80 per cent of deliveries nationwide.

The programme is being carried out in partnership with the Family Health Bureau of Sri Lanka, Perinatal Society of Sri Lanka and the Resuscitation Council of UK, supported by UNICEF.

The greatest risk of childhood death in Sri Lanka occurs during the neonatal period, which extends from birth, through the first month of life. Birth asphyxia is a primary cause of neonatal death and long-term neurodevelopment disability such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy and behavioral disorders. Availability of an organized resuscitation programme is essential to prevent birth asphyxia.

In Sri Lanka, the neonatal mortality rate is 12.9 per 1000 live births whereas in developed countries it is approximately 05 per 1000 live births. It is noteworthy that neonatal deaths accounted for 81.6 per cent of the infant deaths registered in 2003.

According to UNICEF’s Representative in Sri Lanka, JoAnna VanGerpen, training in new born resuscitation is extremely important in reducing neonatal deaths and in preventing neuro - developmental disability. It contributes to reducing health costs by reducing the disease burden for Sri Lanka.

The fact that a significant number of pediatricians are attending this training programme along with participants from many districts such as Hambantota, Batticaloa, Ampara, Vavuniya and Mullaitivu, is indeed a reflection of the great enthusiasm of the medical profession to improve quality care delivered to the newborn pointed out Dr. Srilal de Silva, Joint Secretary, Perinatal Society, Sri Lanka.

The training programme is part of the Government of Sri Lanka / UNICEF Early Childhood Programme whose overall goal is to develop the full potential of the child by improving survival and nutrition and maximizing cognitive and psychosocial development.

For more information please contact:

Dr. Srilal de Silva, Joint Secretary, Perinatal Society, Sri Lanka. 94-0-777739110(M) 94-11- 2686449

Junko Mitani, Communication Officer, UNICEF Sri Lanka. 94-0-777416742(M) 94-11-2555270 ext 250



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