Neonatal Nurses: Recognizing excellence at the International Conference of Neonatal Nursing

Each year 3.6 million newborns die worldwide – about 10,000 babies every day. Meeting the global Millennium Development Goal 4 for child survival will be increasingly determined by how well countries can reduce these newborn deaths, now accounting for more than 40% of under-five deaths globally. Most of these newborn deaths are preventable, and saving lives depends critically on the skills and commitment of those looking after sick newborn babies. In South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, where three out of every four of newborn deaths occur, there is a critical shortage of skilled health workers, including nurses and doctors.

From October 24 – 27, neonatal professionals from around the world will come together at the 7th International Conference on Neonatal Nursing (ICNN) to highlight the fact that skilled nursing care is crucial to the reduction of the global neonatal death toll. Together with Save the Children, the Council of International Neonatal Nurses (COINN) and the Neonatal Nurses Association of South Africa (NNASA), ICNN will recognize and honor excellence in neonatal nursing with the first-ever International Neonatal Nursing Excellence Awards to be granted to outstanding nurses working in newborn care in a low- or middle-income country.

The theme of the 7th International Neonatal Nurses Conference, Excellence against all odds – Researching solutions for global challenges, reflects the aim of all neonatal nurses to constantly give their best despite a myriad of challenging situations, working to exemplify the pursuit of excellence in patient care. Qualifying to become a neonatal nurse is difficult: despite the acute shortage of neonatal nurses in low- or middle-income countries, where 98% of global annual neonatal deaths (or 3.5 million) take place, almost all training programs are located in high-income countries. In turn, despite the fact that nurses provide the majority of care to sick newborns in health facilities, very few nurses specialize in newborn care, which makes staffing neonatal units extremely difficult. Too often nurses receive little or no recognition for providing excellent care against all odds.

The International Neonatal Nursing Excellence Award will do just that. The award will recognize winners for their commitment to work on the frontlines of newborn care in resource-challenged countries, and honor them for the invaluable and inspiring work that, against all odds, saves the lives of the most vulnerable babies.

The Award will be presented during the conference opening ceremony in Durban, South Africa this Sunday, October 24th. Stay tuned as the Healthy Newborn Network joins them in announcing and recognizing the winners of this first-ever Excellence Award.

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