Objective: To study the role of a nurses' aide in the care for newborns weighing between 1500 and 2000 g at birth in a low resource setting.
Study Design: Observational.
Setting: The General hospital in 1994-95, in a public sector, located in a remote area in India
Intervention: A female ward assistant with seven years of schooling trained, on-the-job, to keep babies warm, initiate maternal breastfeeding, and to detect rapid breathing. The nursing staff from the pediatric ward supervised her performance. A separate "warm room" appropriately heated for preterm and sick babies became a makeshift nursery. The nursing staff administered enteral feeding, oxygen, and antibiotics. Services of the resident doctors or general duty medical officers were not available.
Results: The survival rate was nearly 100% for babies with birthweights between 1,500 and 2,000 g (none referred out).
Conclusions: A nurses' aide may facilitate the delivery of special care for newborns where nursing personnel are grossly inadequate and saving babies weighing between 1,500 and 2,000 g may need minimal inputs. It may be worthwhile to target 1,500 and 2,000 g birthweight categories even when resources are meager.
What is already known about this subject?
- Low resource settings face staff shortages, especially nursing staff.
- Health workers with midwifery skills can deliver nearly 90% of essential care services for maternal and neonatal health.
- A substantial proportion of neonatal deaths occur among moderately low birth weight babies.
What does this study add?
- It is possible to train a semi-literate person to facilitate early breastfeeding and to keep a baby warm.
- A large proportion of deaths among babies with birthweight ranging from 1500 to 2000 g are preventable with meager resources.
How might this impact on clinical practice or future developments?
The facilities facing shortage of nursing staff in low resource settings, may employ nurses’ aide to deliver basic newborn care.
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