Vinacapital Foundation

Reducing infant mortality and improving outcomes of neonates across Vietnam through innovative partnerships

Neonatal mortality in Vietnam accounts for more than 60% of all deaths in children under five. These deaths could be prevented if medical staff were adequately trained to monitor the pregnancy, assist at childbirth, and provide urgent post-natal care.  Survive to Thrive aims to decrease infant mortality and improve outcomes for premature babies by building capacity for neonatal care in regional centers and rural hospitals throughout Vietnam. The program includes international training and donations of life-saving equipment.

Program Components:

  1. Training doctors to act quickly to save a baby with neonatal resuscitation and life-saving stabilization procedures to allow babies to survive and thrive.
  2. Donating life-saving pieces of equipment to assist babies to survive until they are strong enough to breath on their own.
  3. Training the trainers: teaching doctors to train others in neonatal procedures.

Program Accomplishments

Da Nang Women & Children´s Hospital Upgrade & Renovations

Vietnam has made successful strides to reduce its infant mortality rate from 44.4 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 19.32 per 1,000 in 2015. The country still has much work to do as it is ranked at 86 on the infant mortality country list of United Nations.

Da Nang is Vietnam’s third largest city and its main hospital, the Da Nang General Hospital, serves a local population of 887,069, as well as infants and children from the central and highland areas. The hospital’s Pediatric Department is the largest in central Vietnam and cares for an average of 400-500 in-patients per day, despite having only 300 beds.

The Department of Pediatrics neonatal team has received world-class training from experts such as Dr. Steven Ringer, Chief of Neonatology at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who praised the team’s skill, dedication, hunger for knowledge and innovative strategies to improve their capacity.

Training and equipment supported by generous donors and volunteers have contributed significantly to the relatively high level of care currently provided by the Pediatric Department.  As a result, the unit is now a regional referral site for 5 provinces and neonatal mortality has decreased from 6.2 in 2012 to 2.1 per 1000 live births in 2015. However, when compared with minimum metrix for International Standards of Excellence, the Da Nang Department of Pediatrics is severely under-resourced.

In 2009, the Da Nang Department of Health, in recognition of the needs of the infants and children of central Vietnam and the work of the Department of Pediatrics, decided to create the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. With the assistance from The VinaCapital Foundation and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Vietnam (RMIT), the new hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the High Dependency Unit (HDU) are now on a par with the best facilities in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, enabling Da Nang to move closer to international standards of pediatric care.

RMIT and VCF completed the designs for the NICU and the HDU. The designs follow the best practices of Australasia including elements standard in developed countries, such as one incubator per baby with a backup power system, a clean air system, multiple sinks for hand washing to reduce infection, and controllable lighting systems. The new units provide care for up to 50 critically-ill babies.

Construction and upgrades to the new facility were completed and the new facilities were opened in April 2011.

These new facilities have greatly improved the care and survival of infants in central Vietnam. They have also helped the hospital to meet its target of reducing infant mortality to a minimum of 1% per year. The creation of a more controlled environment through management of access, lighting, and noise will significantly improve the health outcomes of neonates, and improved infection controls ensure that the infants’ recovery is not compromised by cross-infections.

The RMIT/VCF design also closely involves parents in the healthcare and management of their babies, which aligns with international best practices as well as with Vietnamese traditional culture in which the family is the core unit of attachment.

The new Neonatal Intensive Care and High Dependency Unit has become a regional Center of Excellence in healthcare and medical training. The doctors and nurses will directly save the lives of thousands of infants and children, including the most disadvantaged ones from the region’s rural and ethnic minority areas, and help further reduce Vietnam’s infant mortality rate.

Telemedical Training Program

In 2013, in conjunction with the acclaimed newborn care team at Harvard Medical School’s teaching hospital Brigham and Womens, led by Steven Ringer, MD PhD, VCF began to offer a blended learning program which includes:

  • An 8 session telemedicine symposia series on Neonatal Care
  • On-site training with the newbon care team here in Vietnam to train the trainers on neonatal procedures, where trainers are encouraged and supported to spread the training in their region

This program was funded by a grant from World Bank and Australian Aid.

Program Impact

1) Da Nang Women & Children´s Hospital´s neonatal ICU was designed and constructed with special features for neonates including positive air pressure, special lighting, isolation for infectious disease and infection control, and equipped following best practices for Australasia and internationally recognized exemplary standards of pediatric care.

42 pieces of life-saving equipment (valued at 194,000 USD) have been donated to the unit.

The unit has since been disignated a Center of Excellence and is now a regional referral site for 5 provinces. The unit´s neonatal mortality rate has decreased from 6.2 in 2012 to 2.1 per 1000 live births in 2015.

2) 33 doctors and 63 nurses have been trained in neonatal resuscitation and life-saving procedures.

3) 10 doctors and 14 nurses have been trained to train others in neonatal procedures, and regular training has been conducted at the unit for doctors from referral hospitals.

4) 6 ventilators, 17 phototherapy units, 20 continuous positive airway pressure units, 62 injection and infusion pumps, and 1 incubator have been donated to NICU of hospitals in Ho Chi Minh city, Khanh Hoa, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, and Ha Giang.

How you can help

Fund a donation of life-saving equipment that will save babies 24 hours a day, every day:

  1. Incubator: 7,243 USD
  2. Ventilator: 23,500 USD
  3. Infusion Pump: 1,722 USD
  4. Phototherapy Machine: 2,080 USD
  5. Injection Pump: 1,911 USD

Fund Training for rural doctors:

  1. Training: 4,000 USD will fund 2-3 days training for 25 participants in neonatal resuscitation and stabilization procedures for neonates and premature babies.
  2. Train the Trainer Course (TOT): 6,500 USD will fund a 3 day training course for 10-15 participants. These trainers will train others to save babies from their first breath.

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