A young, brand new dad providing Kangaroo Mother Care to his newborn preemie in Cau Mau province.
I recently returned from a very inspirational trip to Vietnam to monitor the progress on Save the Children’s maternal and newborn health program. In 2005, Save the Children received a grant from Atlantic Philanthropies to develop a program model that links quality maternal and newborn care starting at the household level to community outreach services that would help them access maternal and newborn care at the local, district and provincial levels. Community health and outreach workers help women learn about danger signs in pregnancy, signs of sick newborns and help prepare them for a delivery in a facility.
Vietnam has made significant progress on Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 in the reduction of maternal and child mortality rates over the past decade. However, neonatal mortality rates have not declined as rapidly and account for 55% of under-five deaths according to Save the Children’s 2013 State of the Worlds Mothers Report. Access to quality maternal and newborn care services continues to be difficult for vulnerable families of ethnic minority living in remote and mountainous parts of the country. It is in these areas that most women and newborns are dying of preventable causes.
While community outreach services take place, the program trains nurses, midwives and physicians in Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC) and Comprehensive Emergency Obstetrical Care (CEmOC) at 62 health care centers. The project helped establish specialized Newborn Care Units in 6 district hospitals.
Integrated maternal and newborn care is essential to reaching Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5. Recent mortality rates released by the United Nations in A Promise Renewed: 2013 Report shows Vietnam’s progress in reducing newborn mortality from 44,000 in 1990 to 17,000 in 2012. Increased quality of antenatal, at the time of birth, and postnatal care can help to reduce mortality in newborns and mothers.
Today the project is in its third and final phase and continues to expand throughout the country and is now functioning in 8 out of Vietnams’ 58 provinces. The project is also having an impact at the national level-the Ministry of Health is working with Vietnam’s Save the Children project staff to incorporate this model of care for maternal and newborn health for the entire country! Additionally, the training curriculum and protocols for maternal and newborn care will be finalized and used in all medical, nursing and midwifery colleges training facilities and universities in the country.
To learn more about the project, listen to a recorded presentation and read “Scaling-Up Household-to-Hospital Continuum of Care for Maternal and Newborn Health,” a brief by Save the Children.