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
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
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
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.