Malawi: Likuni Hospital Receives Newborn Equipment

Nyasa Times | October 23, 2013

The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), with support from ViiV Healthcare has donated essential newborn health equipment to Likuni Mission Hospital in Malawi’s central district of Lilongwe as part of an initiative to improve early HIV infant diagnosis and treatment (EIDT).

The donation of an infant incubator, suction machine, radiant warmer–with an Apgar score timer which is used to assess the health of newborn children immediately after birth–is a response to the request for neonatal equipment by the hospital administration during a recent a site-visit there by Andrew Witty, Chief Executive Officer of  GlaxoSmithKline organized by EGPAF officials.

Principal Administrator for the hospital Sister Agnes Lungu said the uquipment will replace a machine which the hospital has long been using for taking care of new born babies who have been at risk of developing hypothermia, a condition which occurs when the body’s temperature falls below 35 °C.

“In the absence of the donated equipment, we were using improvised machine and that was really not ideal because it was very difficult for a midwife to regulate the heat that was given to the baby. Now with that new machine we are able to regulate the heat and see that the baby is safe and well secured and received the right heat required at the particular time,” said Lungu.

The machine is mostly used to prevent complications on the baby who may be born with hypothermia by providing them necessary warmth the baby was having while it was not yet born.

“Hypothermia is a serious problem in labour wards because it can lead to complications that you cannot able to control when developed hypothermia. Now we will be able prevent those complications”, she said.

Country Director for EGPAF in Malawi, Nicole Buono says her organization with support from ViiV Healthcare, has been working across five sites in Malawi during the last two years to streamline EIDT services with a goal of expediting access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) for infants and young children.

“Thanks to our partnership with ViiV Healthcare, we have been able to substantially increase the number of infants beginning ART, and we hope that the delivery of this equipment will continue to support positive infant health outcomes,” said Buono.

Buono said her organization is looking forward to see that the equipment is being used to its maximum use.

Southern Africa General Manager for GlaxoSmithKline, Davies Gichuhi told Nyasa Times that the donation is in line with their mission of reducing preventable newborn deaths.

“We are committed to see to it that newborn are in  good health and we are happy that with the donation we have contributed to the initiative that will help serve the lives of children who may born with health problems,” he said.

Likuni hospital is supported by the Christian Health Association of Malawi with President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief funding provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It serves nearly 170,000 people and handles between 150 and 200 births per month.