From the Field: Rivers State, Nigeria
Written by: Denise Tarves
The team includes three nurse educators from Chesapeake Regional Medical Center in southern Virginia: Stacy Lawton, RN, Denise Tarves, RN, and Virginia Stone, RN. Emejuru, Tarves and Stone have participated in previous Physicians for Peace training efforts in Rivers State aimed at building capabilities among birth attendants; the outreach in July builds on those efforts by introducing Helping Babies Breathe, an award-winning program released by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011 and tailored for underserved areas, where high-tech resources are limited or nonexistent.
Neonatal Resuscitation Baby Doll for Training: Photo credit Brian Clark
We are excited to start training people (nurses, doctors, midwives and some traditional birth attendants) on Helping Babies Breathe. On the first day, more health workers arrived for the training than we could accommodate. This is a good thing - and we are adjusting our schedule for tomorrow to accommodate more people by offering two sessions. With this type of training, we have found smaller groups more manageable and better for the participants. We met some challenges with the class and room preparation, but made adjustments and feel better prepared for tomorrow. The highlight of the day was an unexpected visit from Goodliffe, a friend we made from our previous visit to Nigeria to teach Neonatal Resuscitation Program.
We toured the Special Care Nursery and Labor & Delivery unit at the hospital where the training was taking place. The timing was perfect as we had an opportunity to witness a delivery and were able to identify some areas where our training could benefit the patients.
Throughout the day, we found ourselves alarmed about their work environment and lack of basic supplies and, yet, these are normal conditions for them. We also discovered that in most instances these health workers are the only community healthcare provider available for a mother and baby - sometimes causing them to have to decide whose life to save. Usually, the mother's life is chosen over the baby.
By training healthcare teams in Nigeria – and encouraging those team members to share their knowledge with other health workers -- Physicians for Peace aims to address the immediate needs of young families in Rivers State while strengthening the bonds of trust between local providers and patients. Ultimately, we hope to train more healthcare workers so both mother and child can be saved.