News Story

Medical Personnel trained by Church to help Babies Breathe

Humanitarian missionaries and volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints conducted NRT Training in Mwanza, Tanzania on 7th to 11th Oct. 2013.  NRT stands for Neonatal Resuscitation Training, or in lay terms, Helping Babies Breathe.    The Humanitarian missionaries were Elder and Sister William and Mary Jane McGregor and JoAnn Abegglen.  They were accompanied by Lisa Trujillo, who is a volunteer for “Helping Babies Breathe” projects.  The training was conducted at the St. Dominic Pastoral Centre and over 100 doctors and nurses were trained. 

Many countries in the world have a high mortality rate for babies born, frequently due to breathing problems.  For instance, Kenya has a mortality rate of 55 babies for every 1000 live births.  Uganda has a rate of 54 babies for every 1000 live births and the mortality rate for babies born in Tanzania is about 70 for every 1000 live births.   Mary Jane McGregor indicated that at this time ventilation is the most important skill that could be taught to the doctors and nurses attending the workshop, as they hope to see a reduction in that death rate.  About 10% of all babies born in the Mwanza region are born needing some sort of resuscitation.  90% of those babies could be saved with training and proper ventilation equipment. 

Dr. Berezy Makaranga, who works for APHFTA (The Association of Private Health Facilities in Tanzania) selected the other medical professionals who would join her in receiving 1 day of intensive training in NRT so that they, in turn, could train 100 other doctors and nurses in the technique.  John Mwingira, a Church leader from Tanzania, selected 50 hospitals and clinics who were asked to each send 2 representatives who would receive the NRT training.  On Monday the 7th, Dr. Berezy and the other selected doctors were trained.  Then on Tuesday and Wednesday they in turn trained 50 doctors and nurses, and repeated the process again with another 50 on Thursday and Friday.   

Bugando Medical Centre was one of the facilities to send medical professionals to be trained.  More than 600 babies are delivered there each month.  The Nyamagana District Council Hospital was another facility represented and they average 450 babies a month.

Susan Gati Rioba, one of the nurses in the training, said that the most difficult part of her job in the past has been losing a baby because of lack of training and proper equipment and supplies.  Dr. Gladnes Mascuruli, one of the doctors in the training, said that one of the most difficult parts of her job is working with people who have not been properly trained.  During her career she has personally delivered over 300 babies. 

The days of training were intense.  All the doctors and nurses were very involved and engaged because most of the training was hands-on and it was knowledge that was very beneficial to their profession.  At the completion of each training session, the doctors and nurses had to pass a written test and a clinical evaluation of the NRT procedures before receiving a certificate of graduation. 

As they graduated, each doctor and nurse were given their own ventilator equipment and the hospitals and clinics represented were given additional equipment and supplies.  All of the equipment and supplies were donated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The LDS Church has teams of doctors and nurses who travel all over the world teaching neonatal resuscitation skills.  Their goal is to lower the mortality rate of newborn babies worldwide.

Dr. Bwire, the Acting Regional Medical Officer for the Mwanza Region, upon speaking to the assembled trainers and medical personnel said, “I’m giving personal thanks to the leadership of APHFTA and the LDS Church for organizing this training.”

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