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Malawi: Nest (360) Program Commits to Improving the Quality of Care for Newborns in Malawi

Newborn Essential Solutions and Technologies – NEST (360) Program – has expressed commitment to complementing government efforts to improve the quality of care given to small and sick newborns in Malawi.

NEST (360) Program is a project under the Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS), which is working in collaboration with MOH in partnership with hospitals health training institutions, and other development partners to catalyze country-led change to develop and sustain comprehensive small and sick newborn care (SSNC), support innovation, develop an education ecosystem, and implement evidence-based care.

Speaking at the opening of a two-day Small and Sick Newborns Care (SSNC) Stakeholders’ Meeting in Lilongwe on Monday, NEST (360) Program Country Director, Evelyn Zimba, disclosed that Malawi is one of the countries registering a high number of preterm births.

Zimba said her organization has been working with the Ministry of Health to address gaps in the sector by, among others, providing pre-service and in-service training packages to help build capacity of clinicians and biometric technicians to use, maintain, and repair bundle technologies.

She also disclosed that NEST (360) has been providing equipment to the public and Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM) facilities to ease the challenges the facilities face in providing care to SSNC.

“So, we gave that equipment and installed it in 38 public health facilities and the selected nine CHAM facilities. So install equipment followed by user training because we want everybody to have the knowhow on how to use that equipment because we have seen it before that some equipment, you buy new equipment, somebody just tries trial and error then it gets damaged,” she explained.

Zimba further said her organization is building the capacity of the health workers so that they are able to use the equipment to save lives.

In this regard, she said they are working with the Paediatric and Child Health Association to develop a training manual for care of the infants and newborns (COIN Manual).

“We supported the facilities to train health workers followed by supervision and mentorship visits to facilitate quality care, identify gaps, and provide the necessary targeted technical support through mentorship. In addition, we also support pre-service training by strengthening the skills labs. We installed similar equipment to 20 pre-service health training institutions,” she said.

Acting Chief of Emergency and Critical Care Services at the Ministry of Health, Norman Lufesi, hailed the partnership that exists between NEST (360) Program and the ministry, stating that the partnership has contributed significantly towards improving the quality of care given to the newborns in hospitals the project is under implementation.

However, Lufesi disclosed that gaps still exist in the sector; hence, he called upon more players to join the race.

“We need health care workers, we need equipment, we need our babies in the ward to be warm throughout their hospital stay to make sure that they are responding well to treatment. So, if a newborn is cold, it increases the chances of them dying. I think Malawi and Sub-Saharan Africa, we are not working so much to reduce the hypothermia cases. So, we have to train our workers in these areas,” he said.

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