A 14 bed capacity National Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) will be set up at Victoria Hospital in Candos by March 2018 to cater for critically ill preterm babies from across Mauritius.
The announcement was made by the Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Dr Anwar Husnoo, yesterday at Victoria Hospital during a certificate award ceremony for health personnel of Neonatal Care Units who have completed their training courses. The ceremony was organised by the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life in collaboration with the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) Nurse International, the Neonatal and Paediatric Intensive Care Foundation, and the Embassy of the United States of America (USA) in Mauritius. The Chargé d'Affaires of the Embassy of the USA, Dr Melanie Zimmerman, the President of the Council of the Foundation, Dr Vednidhi Sharma Mudhoo, and other personalities were present at the event.
The necessity to increase the number of bed capacity for NICU was stressed by Dr Husnoo. In 2014, premature rate stood at 17.3% of live births with 2 201 preterm babies. "The three fully functional NICUs in different regional hospitals with a total bed capacity of 15 are not enough because of a high refusal rate (65% to 70%) due to lengthy stays of severe premature babies," he said.
Moreover, the Minister pointed out that the setting up of a NICU is also in the pipeline at Dr A. G. Jeetoo Hospital in Port Louis while in the new Flacq Hospital Project, there are plans to integrate a full-fledged NICU. The objective, he stated, is to enable all premature babies born in any remote part of the island to have the same high standards of care as in developed countries. Dr Husnoo pointed out that to achieve this goal, training is important, and he expressed gratitude to the Neonatal and Paediatric Intensive Care Foundation as well as the American Embassy for the expertise and education provided.
For her part, the Chargé d'Affaires recalled that according to the World Health Organization, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm every year and that preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death, responsible for nearly one million deaths in 2015. She congratulated the health professionals who successfully completed the training, highlighting their crucial role in helping families cope with the challenges of preterm babies. "You have a noble task in caring and improving the health as well as quality of life of the pre-term babies, and in supporting the parents," said Dr Zimmerman.
The Neonatal and Paediatric Intensive Care Foundation has been running the neonatal courses since May 2011 and has trained 20 paediatricians, 60 doctors and 100 nurses. At the certificate award ceremony held yesterday, 19 medical officers received their certificate in 'Neonatal Ventilation and Paediatric Advanced Life Support', and 29 nursing officers were awarded certificate in 'Neonatal Critical Care Nursing'.
Visit to the Cardiac Centre in Victoria Hospital
Prior to the certificate award ceremony, the Minister visited the newly operational wing of the Trust Fund for Specialised Medical Care in Victoria Hospital. Dr Husnoo underlined that the new wing is an extension of the cardiac centre and is in line with Government's objective to decentralise medical facilities and services. He said that it will contribute in reducing the waiting list for complex cardiac surgeries in Victoria Hospital which currently stands at 75 patients. Over the last two weeks, the surgical team headed by Dr Zoran Trifunovic performed bypass surgeries as well as complex coronary operations on 13 patients.