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Towards a healthier future: Malika Usmanova, Tashkent city Center for Perinatal Care
Malika Usmaova is the Deputy Director of Tashkent city Center for Perinatal Care under the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan. She has made significant contributions for effective implementation of the Program on newborn survival and care in the Republic of Uzbekistan. She shares her impression on her collaborations with UNICEF.
Every child has the right to survival. Neonatal period is the one of the most critical periods for child’s survival. Could you please explain why this period is considered to be such a vital one and what are the key obstacles on the way of solving that issue?
According to the global statistics, one third of infant mortality occurs in the neonatal period. In other words, it is the period of the first month of life, when the child is most at risk. And, one third of this neonatal mortality is the first week of life, while one third of new borns die on their first day. Thus, the very first day of any child’s life is the most critical time. Therefore, it is necessary to organize and provide qualified medical services to newborns during that period.
The key factors that ensure such a qualified service include availability of well-trained and highly qualified personnel, necessary equipment, medicines, and dispensable materials. A key role for improving the healthcare providers’ qualification is continuous education and supportive supervision. It is aimed at improving the practical skills on providing resuscitation and care to newborns; and the ability to use relevant equipment and technologies in day-to-day operations.
Yet another important factor is the knowledge and skills of caregivers to newborns. The parents must know the danger signs, be able to provide necessary care to newborns, feed and take care of newborns’ development. It is equally important to increase public awareness in the issues of providing care to newborns. And here, mass-media can play an important role.
You have been collaborating with UNICEF for more than 20 years and during the last eight years you have been heading the joint activities of the Ministry of Health and UNICEF in the area of neonatal care. Could you, please share some information as for successes achieved in the field of reducing the newborn mortality?
Over the course of cooperation of the Ministry of Health with the UNICEF, there have been many successes. Thanks to the launch of the program on the evidence-based newborn resuscitation, we have managed to reduce the newborn mortality. In particular, newborn mortality caused by newborn asphyxia and birth injuries, has reduced drastically. The nationwide training of the medical personnel has resulted in introduction of effective perinatal technologies and formation of teams of qualified healthcare providers, who provide assistance to pregnant women and newborns.
Regionalization of the perinatal care, which was supported by UNICEF, allowed us to organize a referral system for various facilities to receive targeted and qualified assistance.
UNICEF, partnering with the Ministry of Health, has contributed immensely in the area of introducing the international criteria of life-birth and programs, aimed at collection and analysis of information in the area of newborn health. As a result, the country has shifted to the criteria, recommended by the World Health Organization. Thanks to that managers within the healthcare system were granted with the opportunity to conduct more in-depth analysis of the situation in the area of child health and the efficiency of the programs that have being implemented.
What shall the parents and all caregivers know about the newborn care? How can they provide the best start in the life of the child?
I’d like to underline that the key principles of the childcare. They include nutrition, providing warmth, cleanliness, and love.
Since the overcooling or overheating of the child is the major risk, which leads to morbidity or even to death, it is extremely important to control the body temperature of the child and maintain the correct level of it.
Infants, who are breastfed, as a rule, are healthier and reach the optimal level of growth and development comparing to the ones, who are given infant formulas. Early breastfeeding contributes to mothers’ early recovery during the postnatal period. The child should be breastfed on request. Breastfeeding helps protect children from a number of dangerous diseases and strengthens the immune system of the child. It also build a special bond between the mother and the child.
Early childhood, especially the first three years of life, are very important for the development of the child’s brain. The infants learn fast from the very first minutes of their lives. They grow and learn the best when responsive, caring parents and caregivers provide them with love and attention, thus stimulating their development.
There are three simple ways of providing the child with the best start in his/her life. The parents shall play with their child, hug him/her, and talk to the child. It shall be done today and every day afterwards.