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 Press release - Press Release (AIHA)

 Press release date: 03.02.2006

Azeri version



Ganja/Livermore Partnership Introduces High-Quality Neonatal Resuscitation Services, Community Health Advisory Board

For many years, asphyxia was the main cause of infant mortality at Maternity Hospital No. 1 in Ganja, Azerbaijan. Doctors lacked both the instruments and the skills to provide critical care, so they would use any available methods and makeshift techniques to resuscitate a newborn-putting a baby who was in respiratory distress in a basin of hot water and pouring cold water over him, for example. These newborns were often given a great number of ineffective medications that subsequently caused many physical complications and hindered mental development. There was no way to

premature babies or infants with hyperbilirubinemia. More commonly known as jaundice, hyperbilirubinemia can lead to the breakdown of red blood cells, so every second counts when providing care to infants with this condition. Effective treatment requires a complete blood transfusion and placing the baby under a quartz lamp. Unfortunately, the maternity hospital did not have this piece of equipment, so all newborns with this complication were sent to the Azeri capital of Baku. Sometimes it would take 12 hours to do the paperwork and transport the child.

Although they tried every way possible to save their patients under unsuitable conditions, the physicians understood that many of their efforts were ineffective. In order to provide timely, high-quality care for newborns they needed to know the latest technologies in neonatal resuscitation, as well as have special equipment and instruments. Unfortunately financial limitations made it impossible to access either.

Help arrived from American International Health Alliance's Ganja/Livermore partnership, which has singled out neonatal resuscitation as one its priority areas. Several months ago, the maternity hospital received a quartz lamp and a special training session was held to teach the staff how to use it. This equipment and knowledge has already made it possible for the maternity hospital staff to save the life of one baby born with hyperbilirubinemia, as well as to provide prompt care to 14 other premature infants who also needed the "rescue light." In addition, 13 doctors from three maternity hospitals in Ganja received training through the neonatal resuscitation program designed by AIHA in response to the high maternal and infant mortality rates in the region. Now these specialists are successfully introducing high-quality neonatal resuscitation services at their institutions and also spreading the knowledge they received at the workshop among their colleagues. For this purpose, the American partners provided mannequins, training materials, and medical supplies.

Another achievement of this partnership is the creation of a Community Health Advisory Board (CAB). The council works out of Polyclinic No. 6 to ensure that the population it serves participates in ongoing efforts to solve health problems in the region. This approach represents an innovation not only for Ganja, but also for the former Soviet Union. In the past, people were never asked about their needs; all of their priorities were determined by high-ranking officials. Now, board members that include representatives from various sectors of society, as well as healthcare professionals, have an opportunity to discuss local residents' problems and to create programs aimed at solving them. Thus, the healthcare specialists have a clear picture of their patients' immediate needs while the community representatives know about the capabilities and resources of the partnership and share this information with other members of their specific groups. This cooperation has enabled Ganja to successfully implement programs on hypertension, bronchial asthma, diabetes, women's health, and promotion of a healthy lifestyle. All of the council members are involved in developing educational materials on these topics, which has resulted in the publication of informational brochures and leaflets written in a language that is comprehensible to all groups of the population.

One concrete example of demand for the partnership's programs is the creation of an initiative group on disease prevention at the Technological University. The group was organized by a teacher who is also a CAB member. The initiative group was conceived in mid-2005 when, at the teacher's request, healthcare specialists from Polyclinic No. 6 gave free examinations to university employees in an effort to detect and treat the most widespread diseases. In the course of the examinations, many cases of chronic illnesses were diagnosed in patients who hadn't visited their doctors because they didn't recognize the symptoms. As a result of successful cooperation with the clinic, physicians and university representatives organized the initiative group. In addition, they invited the clinic healthcare workers to take part in the group and to continue to help address the problem of faculty and student health, as well as to help develop programs to prevent sexually transmitted infections and harmful habits, which are very topical among youth. Members of the group believe that helping people is itself a healing task and note with satisfaction that they are proud of their new activity and ability to expand it.

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