Latter-day Saint Charities Updates

Infant Mortality Rate Drops by 27% in Thailand—among the Contributors Is Expanding Neonatal Training

Neonatal resuscitation training in Thailand have helped save the lives of babies.

Dr. Sarayut Supapannachart (Dr. Supa) is a neonatologist in Thailand with a special interest in neonatal resuscitation. For a time, he was single-handedly training doctors and nurses on how to resuscitate babies after birth, but he didn’t have the time, the equipment, or the budget to cover the entire country. With the help of LDS Charities, Dr. Supa has been able to build a standard of care that provides doctors and nurses throughout Thailand the training and equipment needed to save the lives of babies.

In 2006, volunteer medical specialists from LDS Charities worked with Dr. Supa and his local team to train medical staff on how to safely resuscitate newborns. To date, approximately 400 medical staff have trained more than 10,000 doctors and nurses throughout the country. Dr. Supa and the Neonatal Society of Thailand have established neonatal resuscitation training centers throughout the country so that all health professionals are within 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) of a training facility providing initial training and refresher courses. Dr. Supa is able to cover the cost of these ongoing programs by hosting annual National and International Neonatology conferences in Bangkok.

Medical staff have been receptive to training, and the results have been successful. And because of the national requirement for neonatal resuscitation certification, many infants in Thailand are starting life as healthy as possible. This is exemplified by Banphaeo District Hospital, where there were zero cases of severe oxygen deprivation in newborns in 2014 and 2015 after staff received neonatal resuscitation training.

Dr. Supa has continued to expand the training beyond the borders of Thailand, and several provinces in Laos have now benefited from this lifesaving instruction. The Crown Princess of Thailand, Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, generously funds these projects designed to improve the quality of newborn healthcare in Laos. The Crown Princess’s initiative includes annual training sessions for 100 doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, and hospital managers from Laos, who spend four weeks in Bangkok.

As a result of the efforts by Dr. Supa and the Neonatal Society of Thailand, the following improvements have been made in Thailand:

  • All 77 provinces of Thailand have ongoing neonatal resuscitation programs in all facilities.

  • Annual neonatal resuscitation certification is a government requirement for all neonatal providers in Thailand.

  • The infant mortality rates have dropped by at least 27% since 2006, according to the UN Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation.

The Maternal and Newborn Care Initiative uses volunteer medical specialists to train those who will help train other medical professionals throughout the world. LDS Charities also donates resuscitation equipment for both training purposes and clinical use.

Projects like these have helped hundreds of thousands of mothers and babies survive in resource-limited countries.