In February 2017, LDS Charities volunteers and maternal and newborn care specialists visited Kurdistan, Iraq, to help train local midwives, nurses, and doctors. Over four days of training, 123 trainers and participants learned skills that they can use to save the lives of mothers and babies. They were also provided with the materials and resources needed to teach others how to save lives. In a training like this, LDS Charities aims to provide the skills and equipment necessary for midwives, nurses, and doctors to train additional medical professionals in their local areas.
This type of training teaches participants how to help babies breathe, how to provide the essential care that all mothers and babies need, and how to help both the mother and baby survive during and after delivery. Inflatable newborn simulators, called NeoNatalies, and birth simulators, called MamaNatalies, are used to help teach these lifesaving skills.
George and Marcia Bennett, maternal and newborn care technical specialists, helped with the trainings. They have taught medical professionals in trainings sessions for 13 years. Over the years, they have heard many stories of how the skills they taught have saved lives.
“We are beginning to see changes in the clinical practices in the delivery hospitals that reflect the new procedures that we teach,” Marcia Bennett said. “For example, in Kurdistan, as the new nursing and midwifery students begin to go to work in the hospitals, having been educated in the new techniques, they are able to teach others and set an example.”
Kafia Hashim Kanir, an instructor at Hawler Medical University’s College of Nursing in Erbil and a Helping Babies Breathe trainer in Kurdistan, is someone who has been helped by LDS Charities’ training sessions. Kafia helped deliver a baby that wasn’t breathing. She began resuscitating the baby using the techniques she learned from the LDS Charities team. Eventually, the baby began to breathe and cry. Because of her training, Kafia has been able to teach the skills she has learned to many students in the nursing school.
“In the main maternity hospital in Erbil they now do things quite differently because of the training,” Sandy Watson, a maternal and newborn care technical specialist, said. “They resuscitate babies in the rooms instead of running them down the hall to a separate room, which was using up precious time. There are now master trainers in each of the areas and ongoing training to the people ‘in the trenches.’”
In countries like Iraq that have limited resources, time, beds, and medical professionals, it is vital that locals are trained to handle life-threatening situations such as complicated pregnancies. Due to lack of bed availability in hospitals, mothers do not stay in the hospital for very long after delivery. Some mothers may not even be able to make it to a hospital. In these instances, locals knowing how to handle a complicated pregnancy is vital to the health of the mother and the baby.