Snuza Provides An “Army of Staff” to Preemie Babies in Zambia

Snuza Head Quarters received a call from Emily Dudgeon, a UK based medical student who was doing her training in Zambia requesting a helping hand from Snuza. Emily was on a 6 week trip to St Francis in Katete, where she had signed up to complete one of her electives. Emily had always wanted to travel to Africa and experience medicine in a completely different light from both the point of view of differing diseases and be exposed to see how other hospitals function. It is understandable that with limited resources a hospital can strive to provide the best care possible, but often an extra helping hand from volunteers and additional resources is very welcomed.

Emily has a particular interest in paediatrics which is very “hands off” for medical students in the UK and so was excited to gain more exposure in St Francis Hospital. The Special Care Baby Unit in particular become a strong focus for Emily as she devoted a lot of time and energy into helping look after the extremely vulnerable and critical preemie babies. Emily noticed that the children were generally a lot more critical than those she was used to seeing, as often they are reached a lot later and at lethal stages when sadly could have been treated if discovered earlier.

It is incredible to see the great work that the staff of the hospital achieve based on the limited resources and facilities available to them. There is generally only one nurse for the unit which may have up to 25 babies during busy periods. Over crowding also adds to the problem, as doctors, nurses and mothers have to climb over others mothers sitting on chairs to get to babies in order to commence resuscitation. The crowding often means that babies have to share beds, which increases the risk of infections of the already vulnerable preemie babies.

There are also only a limited amount of  incubators, and the ones they do have have are made from wood. Oxygen is therefore, only available for 4-5 babies so it has to be rationed. In addition, the incubators are only available in the far corner, which means that the most critical babies have to be placed the furthest away from the staff.

It was evident that the Unit needed a helping hand and thats where Emily decided to reach out to Snuza. The use of baby movement monitors could help assist the nurses and doctors in monitoring the children and alert them if the preemie babies stopped moving and help reassert abdominal movement.

 

According to Emily, "The Snuza baby monitors have been like having an extra wee army of staff. The fact that they vibrate to try to start stimulating the baby after periods of apnoea buys them extra time that may be required for a member of staff to attend to them which is a huge help. It can also help to make the mother aware so that she can start to stimulate the baby as well." 

Over the years that Snuza has been in existence, it has been incredible to see the reach that these monitors have made and especially to hear the stories where Snuza has been able to help intervene and be a voice for babies when they need it the most.
 
According to Emily, the hospital is about to open an upgraded special care baby unit which will certainly help in a huge way.

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