Aims The aim of the project was to ensure that local staff working in labour and delivery wards had the skills and knowledge necessary to recognise and manage a newborn infant in need of resuscitation at birth, in line with international guidelines.
Methods The clinical condition of infants presenting to the neonatal unit and direct observation of practise in the labour ward indicated that the basic steps of newborn life support were not performed in most infants requiring resuscitation thus identifying the need for further training. The local university and Regional Health Bureau assisted us to identify the main centres where babies were delivered, and invite staff from each centre to attend a 2 day basic newborn life support (NLS) training course. The course material developed was based on WHO/Ethiopian national guidelines, and local resources. Funding and equipment were donated by Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) and UNICEF Ethiopia.
Candidates who performed well during the first course were given further training in facilitation and invited back to instruct on subsequent courses, thereby ensuring that the training is sustainable. The effectiveness of the training was assessed by pre and post course tests, candidate feedback and follow up visits to the sites where participants were practising.
Results Four 2 day basic NLS courses were delivered to 80 local nurses, midwives and health officers. 12 local staff attended training in facilitation methods and helped deliver courses 2–4. At the request of the university, 60 final year medical students were also trained, with plans to deliver training to nursing, midwifery and health officer students.
95% of candidates showed an improvement in scores in the post course test, and 100% of the course evaluations indicated the candidate had benefited from training.
On follow up visits, all the sites had set up a newborn corner for resuscitation and had NLS posters provided at the courses displayed appropriately.
Babies referred to the neonatal unit had been more appropriately managed and were accompanied by better documentation.
Conclusion Basic NLS training is a simple effective intervention which can help improve standards of care in a low resource setting.