Getting stuck in

Here are a few pictures from the first day of the Newborn Care Course which went well today.  As it is the first course to be run in Liberia and there are only 2 UK trained instructors, we have kept the course numbers small.

A small, attentive group of 12 midwives and neonatal nurses, watched by the 2 doctors at the back.

We have 12 learners, all very keen midwives and nurses.  We have 2 doctors sitting in who are helping with the smooth running of the course.  It’s good to see the support for the course from the medical fraternity here at CH Rennie hospital and they add to the educational content because they can fill in the gaps for us on what certain policies are here in Liberia.  They also have some influence over the change process.  We do a session on handwashing when talking about infection control and the medical director popped in during it.  This gave the clinical staff an opportunity to tell us that the soap they use for washing their hands is dirty and to tell him by inference that they would like liquid soap.  He took the hint well and asked one of the doctors to put it on a priority ordering list.  Result!

Kola in the foreground, advanced neonatal nurse practitioner and co-instructor, with consultant obstetrician Dr Susan and general practitioner Dr Suku

We also spoke about initiating early breastfeeding which they do well here except with the mothers who are having a Caesarean section.  In the UK, the birth partner is with the mother during the C section if it is being done under spinal anaesthaesia (with Mum awake), and the baby can then be put to the breast while the obstetricians are still closing the abdomen.  There was certainly some interest expressed today in trying to start this in Liberia.

WHO identifies 4 priorities for reducing neonatal mortality rates:

  • Resuscitation at birth
  • Keeping babies warm
  • Early and exclusive breastfeeding
  • Recognition and treatment of serious infection

The Newborn Care Course is based on this agenda.  We cover the first 3 points on day 1 and then move into recognising the “Danger Signs” using simulation training for day 2.  The whole afternoon of the first day of the course is dedicated to neonatal resuscitation.

Manikins bought with money from BMA Charity Funds, hats knitted in Aylesbury, simulation equipment donated by Calderdale, Homerton and Barts Health hospitals.


Learning how to resuscitate a sick newborn baby. All these learners have seen many extremely unwell newborn babies. They have a hunger for learning the skills needed to help save some of them. Until antenatal care gets significantly better, there will always be babies born in a poor condition.
Alistair teaching how to tie a Kalafong for skin to skin mother care. This is a practice that the UK could usefully learn from Liberia. Skin to skin mother care (Kangaroo Care) leads to better growth of the babies, better bonding, better outcomes and faster discharge home.







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