A Rotarian doctor from Somerset has been instrumental in a paediatric project in Pakistan to reduce the death rates in babies.
The neonatal mortality rate in Pakistan is among the highest in the world at 45.6 per 1000.
‘Helping Babies Breathe’ (HBB) is an American Academy of Paediatrics’ initiative which aims to reduce infant death rates by training trainers to teach healthcare workers to resuscitate babies in resource poor settings using basic equipment.
It was thanks to a meeting at an HBB master trainers’ course in London between Dr Michael Fernando, a member of Yeovil Rotary and a consultant paediatrician at Yeovil District Hospital with Dr Syed Furrukh, who is originally from Pakistan, which led to the programme spreading to Pakistan.
“During the course, Dr Furrukh learnt about Rotary and asked to be introduced to Rotary in Pakistan,” explained Michael.
“Aziz Memon, Rotary National Lead for Polio Eradication in Pakistan, took on the project. Karachi Rotary funded the equipment and infrastructure required with infrastructure support from the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association.”
In May, six international and local paediatricians trained 82 doctors and midwives in the HBB programme in Karachi and Sukkur in Sindh Province. Those trained will form part of the next generation of neonatal resuscitation trainers in Pakistan.
Two members of Karachi Rotary, Muhammad Ovais and Abbas Marvi, were key in ensuring that the appropriate infrastructure was in place.
Michael said that when the HBB programme had been delivered in Tanzania and Nepal, 24-hour infant mortality fell.
“It is hoped that neonatal mortality in Pakistan shall also drop following more widespread use of the initiative,” he added.