Personal accounting for every neonatal birth and death is key to preventing stillborn babies. 12 lakh infants die every year in India before completing the first four weeks of their life. And 40 percent of the newborns die on the very first day. There is a lot of soul searching to be done by caregivers, government, parents, non governmental agencies and the private health sector.
In India about 80 percent of deliveries still happen at home and are done by untrained people. The following are the common causes of newborn deaths in our country leading from highest to lowest.
- ● Infection
- ● Asphyxia or lack of oxygen to fetus or the newborn baby
- ● Prematurity or babies born before completing 9 months in their mother’s womb
- ● Congenital malformations or birth defects
Looking at the high infant mortality rate in India, there is an urgent need to educate the health personnel and public to improve newborn health and impede neonatal deaths. With this mandate in mind National Neonatology Forum (NNF) - a forum comprising of neonatologists, pediatricians, nurses and social scientists - with the help of the government, UNICEF and NGOs has undertaken this mission and has dedicated November 15th to 21st to newborn health, by celebrating it as National Newborn Week.
Things to do to improve the outcome of newborn babies
Education of expectant mothers about various problems during pregnancy that can affect the baby.
- ● Basic care during pregnancy along with nutrition counseling and supplementation of iron and vitamins.
- ● Deliveries to be conducted at a medical institution or by trained health personnel
- ● Provide essential care to all newborn babies.
- ● Early diagnosis of newborn problems and early referral to hospitals for optimum treatment and care.
- ● Transportation of newborn babies in neonatal ambulances.
High quality neonatal care means providing adequate care to well born babies and a more specialized care for those babies who need it. Audit, outcome and surveillance studies usually don’t capture the whole gamut of quality newborn care and its contribution to outcome. A more focused approach to standards of care evaluation is the need of the hour. Any future progress in this field would hinge on a coordinated approach from different organizations pooling their expertise in large database, management and analysis, audit and national profile for feedback and evidence based guidelines and guidelines development skills.
Essential newborn care for most newborn babies is simple and rarely expensive. It doesn’t require sophisticated equipment. The basic principles for quality neonatal services are:
Good antenatal care, maternal nutrition, prevention and treatment of anemia and tetanus toxoid immunization for the mother.Delivery by trained medical personnel
To achieve these goals of ensuring quality neonatal care
- ● Resuscitation of newborn
- ● Provide warmth to the newborn baby
- ● Early and exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months
- ● Recognizing signs of disease and seeking early treatment
- Doctors, nurses, trained birth attendants (TBAs) and community health workers are trained in the basics of essential newborn care by the faculty of NNF.
- ● Expectant mothers are coached in newborn healthcare.
- ● District and sub district hospitals and primary healthcare centers are equipped with basic equipment of newborn care.
The newborn babies are our future. If newborn care doesn’t become a personal accountability to us then we are staring into a bleak future.