by Thu Nguyen
THANH HOA — Seeing 11-month-old toddler Bui Thi Anh, nobody would think she was born weighing 1.8kg when her mother was only seven months pregnant.
|A doctor treats a premature infant at the neonatal unit of Thanh Hoa Obstetrics Hospital. This year, neonatal units were expanded to 11 out of 27 districts in the province, and the rate of fatalities has decreased sharply. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc
"At birth, doctors said she had trouble breathing and needed emergency aid," said Truong Thi Bich, Anh's mother from Nhu Thanh District, central Thanh Hoa Province.
Anh subsequently received 10 days of care in the Nhu Thanh Hospital's neonatal unit.
"I was very worried, but with care from doctors and nurses, my daughter and I were discharged in a stable condition," Bich said.
Nurse Le Thi Nuong, who has taken care of many infants, said Anh was surprisingly not the lightest baby to be born at the facility.
Two months ago, a child weighing only 800g was born with her mother only six months pregnant.
With emergency aid from the neonatal unit, the infant gained weight and had been in a stable condition, Nuong said.
"Previously, we moved premature newborns with respiratory trouble to the provincial hospital, but now, thanks to neonatal centres, many children have been saved locally," she added.
The neonatal unit is an intensive care facility run directly by paediatrics wards at district hospitals specialising in the care of ill or prematurely born infants.
Thanh Hoa is the first province in the country to have implemented such a unit. In 2008, Save the Children ran two initial pilot units in the province's mountainous Nhu Thanh and Ngoc Lac districts, reported to suffer high rates of newborn fatalities.
During the past four years, the two neonatal centres have saved nearly 2,000 infants including triplets, each weighing only about 1.1kg.
Director of the Thanh Hoa Reproductive Health Care Centre Luong Ngoc Truong said, "For a long time, taking care of newborns at district institutions received little attention."
Hospitals often lack the equipment and well-trained doctors to treat newborns in need and have had to move ill children to more advanced facilities to avoid the risk of fatality, he said.
"With the neonatal unit, the rate of fatalities have decreased sharply, gaining district hospitals renewed trust," Truong said.
The rate in Ngoc Lac District reduced from 0.019 per cent in 2006 to 0.014 in the first half of this year while falling from 0.021 per cent in 2006 to 0.008 in Nhu Thanh.
This year neonatal units were expanded to 11 out of 27 districts in the province. It is expected that by the end of 2012, three more will be set up, Truong confirmed.
The province will strive to set up such facilities in all 27 districts by the end of 2015. — VNS