San Salvador, May 8, 2012 — With the object of upgrading skills related to patient safety and reducing care-associated newborn infection rates care at the National Maternity Hospital, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), with support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), held three workshops to train all physicians in the neonatal department and hospital administration.
The Ministry of Health (MINSAL) has made efforts to make neonatal health a public health issue. With PAHO support for the workshop, El Salvador is for the first time attempting to improve patient safety by focusing on adverse events related to infections associated with the hospital care of newborns at the National Maternity Hospital, the tertiary facility that handles the largest number of complicated cases and premature births.
These workshops are part of the “Improving Patient Safety” project, which focuses on preventing infections in newborns admitted to the various neonatal units—intensive, intermediate, or basic care—with a view to reducing adverse effects and improving the prevention and treatment of neonatal infections. These activities are expected to help reduce the length of hospital stays and related complications, offering newborns a better quality of life.
During the workshops, all the hospital’s physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists, as well as nurse’s aides, were trained in proper hand washing techniques, biosafety, central venous catheter care and maintenance, the taking of blood cultures, and the proper use of peripheral and central venous catheters to prevent infections and related adverse events. The workshops also covered keeping to diapering schedules and changing locations, as well as techniques for bathing patients.
According to national registries, some 115,000 babies are born in El Salvador each year. Of these, 72,425 are born in health facilities. Thanks to the efforts of MINSAL service providers, neonatal health indicators have been improving year by year. The national neonatal mortality rate was 11 per 1,000 live births in 2003. By 2008, it had fallen to 9.
In 2011, a total of 12,817 deliveries took place at the National Maternity Hospital, with 13,061 births, 20.2% (2,638) of which were premature. According to the Perinatal Information System, the leading and second leading causes of prematurity in this population were hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and maternal infections, leading patients to present clinical symptoms of fulminant sepsis with poor clinical outcomes.
Even though mortality indicators in children under 5 have improved over the years, neonatal health has exhibited the same behavior in all the countries of Latin America, with neonatal mortality accounting for 60% of all infant deaths.
According to the World Health Report 2005 of WHO, the majority of these deaths are preventable, with the leading causes of neonatal mortality in Latin America being: pre-term birth (39%), birth asphyxia (20%), severe infections (19%), and congenital malformations (13%).
To evaluate the project and present its results, semimonthly meetings will be held with the coordinating team to discuss the progress made in reducing neonatal infections.