News Release

Helping Babies Breathe in Nepal

When a baby is born and not breathing, simple steps can be taken during the first minute of birth to save a life.

When a baby is born and not breathing, simple steps can be taken during the first minute of birth to save a life.  Rubbing the baby dry, keeping it warm with a hat and dry cloth, suctioning the baby’s mouth and nostrils are some of the steps that can help the baby breathe.Thanks to the support of LDS Charities and a team of doctors, nurses and physician assistant traveling from America, these critical medical skills were taught to healthcare professionals in Nepal.  Elder and Sister Valentine, Humanitarian missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nepal, organized the project and provided detailed support.  They love the Nepali people!

Helping Babies Breathe is a newborn baby resuscitation program designed for areas with limited circumstances.  Mothers in villages or small clinics in remote areas may not have the resources for care that a larger hospital has. Having a person trained on the simple but critical skills of assessment and quick action during the first minute of birth will give life to many babies who may not have lived without this care.

 “We can cut the mortality rate in half” declared Dr. Michael Visack, the team leader of HBB. He and Dr. Robert Clark, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have traveled to Nepal and Asia for years leading Master Trainer groups in large cities and remote areas.  This year they visited Dhangadhi, in far western Nepal, and Bharatpur in the Chitwan valley. They were joined by 14 Nepali Master Trainers who then trained 111 others during the training. Those 111, now certified trainers, will return to their hospitals, clinics, or villages and train others causing a ripple effect throughout Nepal.  

The HBB training is hands on.  Each person had a chance to practice on “NeoNatalie”, a life-like mannequin that breathes, cries and moves like a baby. A “bag and mask” can be placed on NeoNatalie to stimulate breathing and mouth and nostrils can be suctioned and even a pulse can be simulated. The participants practiced until they were comfortable with the new knowledge they were learning.  They also had to simulate a birth and have the baby breathing within one minute to be certified by the Master Trainer course.   The sound of crying babies filled the rooms as people “saved” the baby they were practicing on.

“I have seen many babies saved in our hospital using these techniques” said Dr. Kamal Shrestha, the director of the NICU at Paropakar Maternity Hospital and a HBB Master Trainer.  A nurse said she had learned the HBB skills 5-6 months earlier and had recently used them on a baby born with asphyxia.  Her eyes moistened as she told of her joy when the baby began breathing.

The infant mortality in Nepal, which has been alarmingly high, has been lowered to 33 due to past HBB trainings.  The goal is to cut that number again by half and with the help of LDS Charities, Dr Visick, Dr Clark and the Nepali Master Trainers and team, it will be met.  

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