Addressing Critical Knowledge Gaps in Newborn Health

Second International Neonatal Nursing Excellence Award Winners Announced

Second International Neonatal Nursing Excellence Award Winners Announced
September 6, 2013
Newborn News
Kenya, Malawi, Pakistan
Africa, Asia
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Belfast, Northern Ireland - Three nurses were recognized with the International Neonatal Nursing Excellence Award for their commitment to neonatal nursing on Friday, 6 September at the 8th International Neonatal Nursing Conference.

This award recognizes the commitment of nurses working on the frontlines of newborn care in resource-challenged settings, where a majority of newborn deaths occur. Anila Ali Bardai of Karachi, Pakistan and Christine Sammy of Kitui, Kenya were selected as the two winners, Netsayi Gowero of Blantyre, Malawi was named the Runner Up. (Read Professor Joy Lawn's blog on the importance of Neonatal Nurses to newborn survival).

“Christine, Anila and Netasyi were selected over a number of outstanding candidates for their unwavering leadership and passion for ensuring every newborn has a chance to survive and thrive,” said COINN President Karen New.  “All three work in newborn care units in busy referral hospitals providing specialized care to underserved populations. Even in these facilities, we cannot take good care for granted; it has to be developed and defended by committed professionals.”

“Many of the millions of newborn deaths that occur in Africa and South Asia could be prevented with greater numbers of skilled health professionals,” said Professor Joy Lawn, Director of MARCH at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a senior health advisor to Save the Children.  “Nurses like Christine, Anila and Netasyi show how it is possible to rewrite the statistics on newborn deaths with greater investments in neonatal training and basic equipment.”

The award is sponsored by the Council of International Neonatal Nurses and Save the Children

Anila Ali Bardai, Pakistan

Pakistan has the world's third highest number of newborn deaths. As Head Nurse of the Neonatal-ICU at the AgaKhan University Hospital in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan, Anila Ali Bardai strives to reduce this number and support families who have lost their babies. She leads research and evidence-based practices in the neonatal care unit and teaches students and new staff essential skills to promote proper breastfeeding and reduce infections. She works in bereavement care and infection prevention, and provides counseling to mothers of sick babies. Her contributions have helped standardize newborn care throughout the hospital and have improved infection rates, resulting in a decrease in newborn mortality. Anila has also been involved in outreach work for newborn care gaining wide community respect.


Christine Sammy, Kenya

Each year in Kenya nearly 42,000 babies do not survive their first month of life. As the senior nursing officer and a neonatal pediatric nurse at Kitui District Hospital in rural Kenya (180km east of Nairobi), Christine Sammy provides quality care to mothers and newborns and trains others to do so. Christine runs trainings and supervision for newborn resuscitation. Her diligence in data management and infection control contributed to an infant mortality reduction from over 50% in 2010 to below 10% in 2012 in Kitui Hospital. Christine is continuing her education in newborn care and hospital management and recently received an academic scholarship from the German International Cooperation organization. Her motto: “Failure means delay, not defeat.” Listen to her BBC Interview (minute 55:34).


Netsayi Gowero, Malawi (Runner up)

Malawi has the highest preterm birth rate globally with 18 babies out of every 100 born too soon. Netsayi Gowero is a Registered Nurse Midwife at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, specializing in the care of sick and preterm babies. At the hospital’s Chatinkha Nursery Unit, Netsayi provides new mothers with breastfeeding support, teaches Kangaroo Mother Care and helps to manage newborn infections. She is a role model and a mentor, and seeks to translate scientific evidence in newborn care into practice and research.


Globally there are nearly 3 million newborn deaths each year. Three quarters of these deaths happen in South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa. Meeting the global Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 for child survival is increasingly determined by how well countries can reduce newborn deaths, as now 43% of under-five deaths happen in the first month of life.

Solutions exist to save these newborns. Focusing on providing quality care on the day of birth is critical to addressing newborn mortality. In many countries around the world, nurses provide the majority of care to sick newborns in health facilities, however there is an acute shortage of neonatal nurses internationally. The International Neonatal Nursing Excellence Award helps to draw global attention to the need for highly trained neonatal nurses and is a call to action to bring opportunities for education and training for midwives and nurses to the most desperate regions or the world.