It was an ad placed through the Scottish Neonatal Group which caught the eye of one of Forth Valley’s most senior neonatal nurses, Anne Moylan. Wanted were qualified neonatal nurses and lecturers to deliver education in Da Nang province in Vietnam.
Anne, who currently lectures at Napier University in Edinburgh, and is an Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner applied for the post, and subsequently spent two weeks training nurses and visiting the wards at Da Nang Hospital for Women and Children, under the auspices of Newborns Vietnam.
This UK charity has built a significant partnership with the Da Nang Department of Health to reduce infant mortality – the results to date says Anne, are incredible, with a 50% reduction in overall neonatal mortality between 2012 and 2016. Breastfeeding rates have increased by 70% and infection control measures have cut healthcare associated infections by 40%.
But conditions in Vietnamese hospitals do not match those of Forth Valley Royal. Anne explained: “It’s a developing country but hospitals are completely understaffed. Hygiene standards can sometimes leave a little to be desired but it’s amazing what using a toothbrush to clean floors and walls can do. Influencing staff to use hand hygiene also pays huge dividends.
“Nurses always seemed happy. Despite poorer conditions than we have they never complained. They were such eager and keen students desperate to improve their practice and such a pleasure to teach.”
Language difficulties were partly overcome with the help of a translator but Anne believes overcrowding is the biggest challenge. In terms of ratio one neonatal nurse at Forth Valley Royal can care for one baby in intensive care, two babies in the high dependency unit and up to four babies in special care. In Da Nang Hospital one nurse can be assigned to care for six infants in intensive care and up to 25 babies in the so-called ‘kangaroo rooms.’
These are the rooms that babies move to when they leave intensive care. They snuggle up to Mum like a joey in a pouch to stay warm, and can also be cuddled by other family members who all play an active role in caring for the little ones.
”Women don’t stay in hospital very long” explained Anne.”You see their relatives lying on the floor beside their bed or sleeping on the stairs because they want to look after the newborn as part of a family unit.”
Anne is full of praise for the charity’s founder Suzanna Lubran saying she is an amazing woman who has fundraised for all the equipment. And for anyone thinking of volunteering with Newborns Vietnam she has just one message –Go!