Neonatal Unit Opens at Lao Friends Hospital for Children

Newborn babies require special care and in recognition of this the Lao Friends Hospital for Children (LFHC) has opened a dedicated neonatal unit. While LFHC has cared for newborn babies before, this unit will enable staff to focus better on the needs of newborn babies and their families enabling them to deliver high quality compassionate care in a pleasant and quiet environment.
A Neonate is a newborn infant in their first 28 days of life. Neonates face a different set of challenges to older children: they are small, their lungs are immature, their immune system is not well developed and they need to learn how to feed. They are prone to low blood sugars, low oxygen levels, chest infections, skin infections and jaundice. Caring properly for neonates therefore requires special equipment, trained staff and ideally a dedicated area. The neonatal unit at LFHC will provide all of these.
In preparation for the opening of the neonatal unit, doctors and nurses of LFHC received specific training from a group of experienced neonatal nurses from the Thai Red Cross. This not only increased the technical knowledge of our staff in neonatal care but has also their confidence in handling and caring for such young and small children. One of LFHC’s nurses that attended this training commented that on finishing the course “I’m no longer afraid to care for such young infants”. By increasing the doctors and nurses knowledge and confidence LFHC is helping to create a sustainable medical and nursing workforce that fosters high quality care to children in real need.
One of the first patients admitted to the Neonatal Unit was a child that was suffering from severe beriberi. The family were Khmu and travelled from the Xieng Ngeun district of Luang Prabang. Beriberi is an illness caused by thiamine deficiency that leads to heart failure and breathing difficulties. If unrecognized and untreated it can lead to the child’s death. After oxygen, fluids and some thiamine the baby has done extremely well. Two other neonates, one with a fever and one with feeding difficulties were admitted soon after.
The opening of the neonatal unit significantly contributes to LFHC’s goal of assisting with the sustainable development of health care in Northern Lao, and is a tangible step towards treating every child as if it were our own.