Doctors and nurses shine in one of Rwanda’s newest neonatology wards

By Cyriaque Ngoboka & Veronica Houser
On 18 April 2019 at 04:30

Jeanne d’Arc Utetiwabo is a doctor of neonatology in Nyanza Hospital. It is crowded, often with too many patients and too few doctors. Too many times, she has seen risky pregnancies result in babies born too early. Her team acts quickly to save the lives of these mothers, but prematurely born children are still fighting to survive.

Doctors and nurses in Rwanda are not strangers to situations like these. Doctors and nurses often lack the training and equipment to identify problems and to save the baby’s life if something goes wrong.

But in Nyanza Hospital’s bright new maternity ward, equipped with new essential medical equipment with support from UNICEF, there have been marked improvements in the number of mothers and children who survive premature deliveries.

“We used to have a very small space with questionable cleanliness,” says Jeanne d’Arc. “But now we have a lot of space and modern equipment, and well-trained nurses. These nurses are now able to shine in a crisis because they have the confidence and the proper equipment to save lives.”

Through UNICEF’s partnership with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Nyanza Hospital is working with mentors from the United Kingdom who are training nurses and doctors in Rwanda. These mentors have also helped Nyanza Hospital improve their administration processes, developing well-maintained patient records and checklists for better follow-up care with new mothers.

Esther Mukanyandwi lies in the maternity ward with her new baby, practicing Kangaroo Mother Care by keeping her baby wrapped closely to her body. “My child was born two months early and weighed only 1.3 kilograms,” she says. “I was sure she would die because there were many times when she stopped breathing, but the nurses were always able to resuscitate her."

Dr. Pascal Ngiruwonsanga, the Director-General of the hospital, has seen neonatal services drastically improve over the last two years.

“We can offer better health services now, and we have been able to rehabilitate old facilities,” he said. “With the right medical equipment and competent staff, we can focus on resuscitation of newborns, infection prevention, and education for new parents.”

“We hope to see the number of child deaths reach zero in the few years ahead.”

Source: UNICEF Rwanda