Improving mother and child health in Aral Sear are: Baby Gulnara’s story

Gulnara was born after only 30 weeks of gestation. She weighed just 1,000 grams.

UNICEF Uzbekistan
Малышка Гульнара в инкубаторе Нукусского перинатального центра
UNICEF Uzbekistan/2021
03 February 2022

Gulnara was born after only 30 weeks of gestation. She weighed just 1,000 grams. After two months in an incubator at the Neonatal Intensive Care ward of the Nukus City Perinatal Center, she weighs 2.450 kilograms.

Мама Гульнары

Gulnara’s mother was admitted with a history of miscarriage. She suffered from multiple health conditions which led to premature labor. The head of the department, Dr. Kahramon Kabulov, who performed an emergency cesarean section to assist with Gulnara’s birth, explained that Gulnara would have had slim chances for survival just a few years before. Thanks to the up-to-date, evidence-based advanced newborn care resuscitation protocols recommended by WHO and UNICEF, and the latest equipment and upgraded infrastructure, maternity staff can now save Gulnara and the other babies who are born preterm.

Врач наблюдает за состояние Гульнары в инкубаторе

“We fight every day to help babies survive, even the ones weighing 1,000 grams. Before, babies weighing less than 1.1 kilograms had minimal chances to survive. We thought they were too small to have a chance at survival. We didn’t have the equipment, skills, or knowledge we needed.

Dr. Jeyran Sherieva

Dr. Jeyran Sherieva is the neonatologist who oversaw Gulnara’s care. She completed the ‘Helping Babies Breathe’ training held by UNICEF.

In 2019, within the framework of the ‘Improving Quality of Perinatal Care Service to Most Vulnerable Mothers and Newborns’ Programme, UNICEF and UNFPA had assisted three perinatal facilities in Karakalpakstan (in Nukus City, Kungrad, and Beruniy) to enhance the capacity of neonatologists, obstetricians, and resuscitation specialists to strengthen staff capacities, through comprehensive training and support. UNICEF and UNFPA have also equipped the perinatal center’s new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with the latest medical equipment such as ventilators, oxygenators, laryngoscopes, and training equipment. Today all premature babies that come through the perinatal center have a real chance of survival.

At the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, little Gulnara is getting better every day. She can now see lights and hear sounds and uses her strength to drink her mother’s breastmilk. Once she reaches 2.5 kilograms, she will be released to go home. Her parents have been trained on how best to care for her and are looking forward to her arrival at home.

UNICEF and UNFPA significantly contributed to the Government’s efforts to improve the quality of perinatal services in the Kungrad and Beruniy districts and Nukus City. Since the project started, 21% of all mothers and newborns in Karakalpakstan (more than 12,000 mothers and 12,000 newborns) have benefited from upgraded infrastructure and improved quality of care at the target perinatal centers.

A significant reduction in early neonatal mortality has been achieved in all three target facilities on average by 22%. It is expected that the target perinatal centers will extend their specialized service to mothers and newborns from the neighboring districts.

The project has been implemented August 2019 to May 2021 with the funding support of 1,6 million USD from the UN Multi-partner Human Security Trust Fund for the Aral Sea region in Uzbekistan (link to, which is generously supported by the Governments of Uzbekistan, Norway, Finland, the Republic of Korea, the European Union and Alwaleed Philanthropies.