Nearly two million babies die each year in the first week of life, many from complications arising from premature birth. Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) is a common complication of preterm birth that low-resource neonatal units are ill-equipped to treat. Deaths in neonatal units from RDS can be as high as 45%.
Safe Anaesthesia Worldwide funded the provision of specialist breathing therapy (CPAP) to effectively treat RDS in babies at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital in Uganda. The neonatal intensive care unit at Mbale is full to bursting with tiny babies fighting to breathe and clinging to life. More mothers with babies arrive daily and resources are constantly stretched.
Thanks to the work of Dr Kathy Burgoine and the charity Born on the Edge, amazing improvements in care have reduced newborn mortality from 50% to 11%. The specialist CPAP machines that keep sick babies breathing have been running non-stop for three years and urgently needed servicing. Any breakdown means babies will die, but there is no back up to use during servicing or repairs.
We arranged for additional CPAP equipment, as well as spares for servicing, to be sent to the unit so that lifesaving CPAP treatment of babies is never interrupted due to breakdowns or routine servicing needs. All the equipment supplied is suitable for a low-resourced hospital and inexpensive to run.
The future of CPAP therapy at Mbale is secured for many years to come. The impact of this project will be an improvement in the long-term reliability and resilience of CPAP equipment in the neonatal intensive care unit. Hospital staff will continue to deliver CPAP therapy with increased confidence. Mothers and families will not suffer the heartbreak of losing a premature baby.
Photos courtesy of Born on the Edge