Unfortunately, Pakistan is one of those countries suffering from a high neonatal mortality rate. Not only a few, but a huge list of factors are the reasons behind it. Some common causes include premature births, birth defects, delivery complications, untrained midwives, home births, poor healthcare system, and so on.
To address this alarming issue, there is a dire need to educate women and spread awareness. Especially in rural areas, where the literacy rate is low, and the trend of home births is high, awareness and education can make a huge difference.
One such initiative was taken by Shine Humanity. We arranged a workshop for training doctors, nurses, and midwives in rural communities about neonatal care. Our focus was to teach them techniques that medical professionals use when a newborn faces breathing difficulty.
If these training programs are arranged regularly, reducing the mortality rate in neonates and infants will not be difficult. Let us see how these programs can help:
Help in Understanding the Risk of Traditional Baby Care Rituals
Due to a lack of knowledge, people in rural areas follow many rituals that can sometimes cause harm to newborns. The traditional practice of using various substances for the healing of the umbilical cord is common. Since the umbilical cord is cut, it is often the first point of infection, but nonprofessional healthcare providers often ignore it.
Untrained midwives and mothers use substances like cow dung, surma, ash, and ghee in this area which increases the risk of sepsis, resulting in severe complications. Apart from it, delaying breastfeeding and not knowing the right breastfeeding positions also cause various problems. Giving water or honey to newborns is another practice that can be addressed by spreading awareness about the drawbacks.
Highlight the Dangers of Home Births
Compared to hospital births, home births can result in death, nervous system disorders, and seizures. But women in rural areas have a fear of cesarean delivery. They have a misconception that most hospital deliveries are C-sections and the cost is too high. Since people in these areas hardly meet their basic needs, they don’t consider hospital deliveries the right option.
With training and workshops, you can educate medical professionals and mothers about natural deliveries in hospitals. You can also highlight how home births can result in neonatal deaths and give rise to other complications. Well-equipped government hospitals can provide this facility.
Identify Health Complications in Neonates and Infants
Another common problem is the lack of knowledge regarding symptoms of health complications in infants and neonates. For instance, many mothers and even midwives do not know the signs of breathing difficulties. They do not consider it essential to check the respiratory rate when a child is constantly crying for a long time and producing a wheezing sound, a musical sound coming from the chest. Besides this, they do not prioritize a detailed health checkup during the first year of a child.
Sometimes, symptoms do not show, but sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) can occur. Training programs educate people about these symptoms as well as their prevention. Through these campaigns, people also get to know the cause of SIDS. Knowing these causes helps eradicate certain habits like alcohol consumption, early marriage, improper infant safety measures, etc.
Help in Knowing the Importance of Vaccinations
Rural communities often misunderstand the concept of vaccinations. They have beliefs about the side effects and are usually hesitant about childhood vaccines. Even mothers dealing with contagious diseases like Hepatitis are not willing to opt for vaccination of the same illness for their newborns.
Similarly, some people do not know the institutions from which they can get the vaccines for free. There are other problems, too, like transportation or lack of vaccine stock in the area.
Workshops and training programs spread awareness regarding the significance of vaccines. These campaigns train people to convince their community to get childhood vaccinations and seek help if appropriate vaccines are unavailable. Medical health teams also learn multiple techniques for providing vaccinations to those in need. They can teach people about the role of vaccines, promise no side effects, and show them evidence of others who got the vaccine in the past.
Highlight the Consequences of Poor Hygiene
Due to illiteracy and lack of exposure, women and men in underdeveloped areas do not know the importance of hygiene and cleanliness. At the time of birth, lack of hygiene and poor environmental conditions can result in getting many infections. These infections can also become life-threatening and equally affect the health of a mother and a child.
When you train medical teams and make them aware of the complications that can arise due to poor hygiene, they take appropriate steps. Proper sterilization of equipment, hand sanitization, use of hand gloves, and other practices become common. These steps of hygiene and cleanliness help in staying safe from infectious diseases.
Create a Health-Conscious Community
Underdeveloped communities where child health, hygiene, and disease prevention are not a priority turn into a health-conscious community through training programs. These sessions empower medical professionals and their teams with the latest neonatal and infant care knowledge.
When people observe a positive change in medical clinics and hospitals, they realize the significance of health and adopt positive measures for their child’s health. Consequently, it builds an environment of a healthy community.
The above points highlight the core reasons behind infant and neonatal mortality in underserved areas. Training programs bring a huge difference in empowering these communities with healthcare knowledge. They help control the causes like early marriage, unhygienic surroundings, home births, etc.
You can play a part in arranging these training programs. Donate or share your skills with Shine Humanity to train medical professionals in rural areas.
Send your Donations here: https://shinehumanity.org/donate/