Written by AHC
Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) in Siem Reap, Cambodia has been striving for almost two decades to provide high quality, compassionate care at no cost to the children who need it most. The organisation has provided over 1,500,000 treatments and has an enviable reputation as not only one of the country’s leading hospitals, but also as an impactful, holistic non-profit healthcare organisation continuously endeavoring to improve health for all of Cambodia’s children.
AHC seeks to use modern technology, latest research data and best practices to forge new and improved ways to reduce mortality and give more children a happier, healthier chance at life. The significant work that AHC has put into reducing neonatal (babies in the first 28 days of life) deaths over the past five years, yielding very positive results, is a good example of this.
The World Health Organisation estimates that two-thirds of newborn deaths could be prevented with proper care during and immediately after birth. This first 28 days is the most physically vulnerable period in a baby’s development. Deaths during this period are a result of infection, neonatal sepsis and other complications – the vast majority of which are preventable with proper maternal and newborn care.
In the five years since AHC started its neonatal programme the number of babies dying in the hospital and at AHC’s satellite clinic has reduced by 80%. Recognising that if such a programme were to be implemented across Cambodia, thousands more lives could be saved. Thus, AHC examined the implementation steps of its own neonatal programme and identified the interventions that have had the most impact on new-born mortality at AHC. These successful interventions include; having a dedicated area for neonatal care, good infection control practice, essential equipment and teaching.
AHC plans to implement the ‘Saving Babies Lives’ programme, in order to replicate some of these best practices, in Preah Vihear – an isolated and high-poverty border province in the north of Cambodia. Experience so far has shown that simple interventions like training local health workers to provide skilled care can have a significant impact in the health outcomes of babies. The programme aims to reduce the number of newborns dying in Preah Vihear province by one-third. AHC will achieve this with a comprehensive community heath package utilising medical and social interventions.
AHC is conducting comprehensive surveying in Preah Vihear and with the resulting data and analysis of the needs and gaps in health care delivery to newborns, the Saving Babies Lives programme will be rolled out across three key sectors in Preah Vihear – health centres and posts, the provincial referral hospital and within the larger community. At health centres and health posts (primary health care facilities), staff will receive essential training and mentorship and be encouraged to set up and participate in an online community for health care staff in remote locations. Essential basic equipment will also be provided to the centres and posts.
At the Preah Vihear Referral Hospital, the programme will establish a dedicated Neonatal Unit and will build the capacity of nurses and doctors in effective newborn care.
Community engagement has been proven as an effective strategy in improving health outcomes; it can provide a voice to the vulnerable and a powerful tool for addressing health challenges. Community Organisation Groups (COGs) will be created with representation from all villages. The COGs will be supported to pinpoint difficulties in newborn care and identify ways that the community can overcome these difficulties.
The programme will work closely with the Cambodian government to ensure alignment with government strategy and guidelines, and also to identify further provinces where the programme could potentially be rolled out in the future, to save even more newborn lives.
The Saving Babies Lives programme is just one example of the innovative methodologies that AHC is utilising to strategically ensure better health outcomes for Cambodian children; not only at Angkor Hospital for Children, but throughout Cambodia.