Edinburgh Napier University Making a Difference in Neonatal Health in Vietnam

The annual neonatal mortality rate at Vietnam’s National Children’s Hospital in Hanoi has steadily dropped in the last few years, from 12.8% to 7.4%, thanks to the introduction of programmes of medical and neonatal nurse education, the latter provided by Edinburgh Napier University.

Although a relatively new science, neonatology and neonatal nursing care has been the life-long passion of advanced neonatal nurse practitioner and ENU lecturer Anne Moylan. The neonatal period is the first 28 days of a baby’s life, the time when babies are most vulnerable. Caring for these babies at this time in their life, requires a specific knowledge and skill set. Anne works tirelessly to raise awareness of neonatal nursing and education to support newborn babies and their families both in Scotland and abroad. 

In 2017, on the initiative of a charity completely dedicated to reducing child mortality and morbidity in Vietnam, called Newborns Vietnam, Anne and a small team of selected highly skilled and dedicated British nurses took their neonatal nursing expertise to Da Nang, a province in central Vietnam. The team of nurse educators taught local nurses about theory and clinical practice surrounding neonatal health, considerably increasing sick babies’ chances for survival.

Shortly after returning home, Anne and her ENU colleague, Sonia MacVicar, in conjunction with the charity Newborns Vietnam, developed a 16-week neonatal training programme to fulfil the needs of nurses working at Hanoi’s largest children’s hospitals. The course, which is highly valued by clinical practice and students alike, was devised based on neonatal nurse education in Scotland. The first two cohorts have already successfully graduated in Vietnam, and the third student group is currently undertaking the programme online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The training has empowered nurses at the Hanoi-based paediatric hospital to be champions for change. It provides nurses with crucial in-depth knowledge about theory and evidence-based practice, enhancing their confidence and improving their communication and leadership. As a result of this education programme, the culture is now changing in Hanoi to one where staff work within a multidisciplinary team and nurses are advocates for the babies and families in their care. The nurses are committed to improvement and now provide caring environments where noise and light are reduced in order to provide protection for the babies’ brain growth and development. Parents are encouraged to visit and provide skin to skin care even for the sickest neonate. Most importantly, the education programme has witnessed a reduction in infection rates and improvement in infection control practices. 

Thanks to the combination of ongoing nurse and medical training programmes, the tireless work, commitment, and fundraising efforts of Newborns Vietnam founder Ms Susanna Lubran, as well as the dedication of the Edinburgh Napier team, there has been a 42.2% increase in babies’ survival rates at National Children’s Hospital in Hanoi, since 2017. 

And it doesn’t stop here!

ENU is extending the partnership with Newborns Vietnam to address the midwifery training needs in hospitals this year. The aim is to build stronger links between obstetrics and neonatal departments and improve midwifery care delivery and teach neonatal nurses throughout Hanoi, the outlying provinces, and Ho Chi Min City. 

All of this has one aim, the aim of the charity Newborns Vietnam - to improve the lives and outcomes of neonates in Vietnam. With the charity, Anne and her colleagues are committed to achieve that goal.

To see a video of the most recent cohort graduating, please click here