7th International Conference of Neonatal Nurses Durban South Africa

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1 Journal of Neonatal Nursing (2011) 17, 1e6 GUEST EDITORIAL 7th International Conference of Neonatal Nurses Durban South Africa For the first time on the African continent, 500 passionate neonatal nurses from 19 countries came together at the 7th International Neonatal Nurses Conference held from 23rde27th October 2010 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban. This was hosted by the Neonatal Nurses Association of Southern Africa (NNASA) in collaboration with the Council of International Neonatal Nurses (COINN) (Fig. 1). COINN was established in 2004 originally from representatives of the National Neonatal Associations of The USA, England and Australia and now has links with nurses in almost 50 countries. COINN represents global unity for neonatal nursing. It speaks for neonatal nurses at global level with one strong voice to facilitate the growth of neonatal nursing and improve healthcare outcomes for newborns and their families worldwide. NNASA was formed in From small initial steps in Kwazulu Natal (KZN) NNASA now has over 200 members with branches in the Free State, Gauteng and imminently in Limpopo. NNASA s vision is to improve the standard of neonatal care in Southern Africa through the support of and collaboration between neonatal nurses in the region. The conference theme Excellence against the odds-researching Solutions to Global Challenges was most appropriate as Sub-Saharan Africa battles to decrease the over one million babies that die in the first month of life. With only four years before the United Nation s Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 2015 target date, South Africa is one of only 11 countries who s under five mortality is climbing. Immediate dramatic action is required to reduce neonatal mortality in order to meet the MDG 4 e a two-third reduction of the under five mortality by the year COINN hosted a workshop with its global partners immediately prior the main conference. Discussions focused on how COINN can strengthen neonatal nursing globally. Discussions led by Neonatal Nurse and International Health Consultant, Dr. Stephanie Fergusson,; Director Global Evidence and Policy with the Gates-funded Saving Newborn Lives program of Save the Children, Dr. Joy Lawn, e and Dr. Margo Pritchard, a neonatal nurse and researcher whose focus is on epidemiology, were challenging and thought provoking eliciting the following conclusions: COINN and all national neonatal nursing associations need to make their voices heard through international and national partnerships as well as collaboration. For example, liaison with The Partnership for Maternal and Newborn Care and Saving Newborn Lives and Healthy Newborn Network or working in collaboration with other strong national groups such as midwives and national nursing associations; National neonatal nursing associations should collect, analyse and utilize data effectively. Research should be undertaken to evaluate the current situation as well as to bring attention to the difference the neonatal nurse makes based on the evidence in research findings; Consult directly with local and national Ministers of Health in order to raise awareness of the issues facing neonatal nurses and neonatal care; Write position statements as to what is required in order to reduce neonatal mortality and morbidity (Fig. 2). Delegates were alternatively offered the opportunity of visiting two local neonatal units namely, /$ - see front matter ª 2010 Neonatal Nurses Association. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi: /j.jnn

2 2 Guest editorial Fig. 1 Delegates. King Edward VIII and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospitals. During the tours local speakers highlighted neonatal programs and projects in KZN aimed at reducing neonatal mortality thereby exposing international delegates to the challenges and successes of neonatal care in the area. Due to popular demand, the tours were repeated on the final afternoon for delegates who had failed to register timeously. The main conference commenced on Sunday 24th.A choice of Workshops focused on key interventions shown to reduce mortality: Interpreting the Evidence Neonatal Resuscitation Advanced Practice Developmental Care Kangaroo Mother Care Challenged with unexpected, un-booked, large participant numbers from on-site registrations, facilitators spontaneously adapted their planned intimate group programmes to suit the situation. Well-received, interactive and participatory Fig. 2 COINN day discussions.

3 Guest editorial 3 Fig. 3 Pre-conference workshops. workshops resulted setting the stage for the conference.. Ongoing regional workshops are required to reinforce and expand on skills learnt in these sessions (Fig. 3). The atmosphere of the World Cup was reawakened at the Opening Ceremony with the St Nicholas school choir waving each country s flag singing Wave the flag setting a vibrant note to the proceedings (Fig. 4). The Honourable Minister of Health for KZN DR S.M Dhlomo in his opening speech reinforced the need to prevent neonatal mortality (Fig. 5). This call for action was followed by the exciting launch of the first International Neonatal Nursing Excellence Awards sponsored by Saving Newborn Lives. These were awarded to two nurses working in Africa and Asia whose neonatal mortality rates are highest. Regina Obeng from Ghana and Rekha Samant from India were the recipients. Their stories are a moving tribute to the difference one passionate nurse can make in even the most trying circumstances. Finally, the wonderful work of neonatal nurses has been recognised, acknowledged and rewarded (Fig. 6). Fig. 4 St. Nicholas choir welcomes delegates.

4 4 Guest editorial Fig. 5 Minister Dhlomo. Stomping Zulu dancers signalled the end of formal proceedings allowing delegates to let their hair down, renew or start international friendships over local wine and snacks while having the opportunity to dance to the sounds of kettle drums (Fig. 7). The main scientific conference commenced with keynote presentations from Dr Philda Nzimande former president of the International Council of Nurses, Dr Joy Lawn and Dr Margo Pritchard. The key issues impacting on neonatal care and mortality were stressed while the audience were motivated to maintain their focus on providing excellent care despite all odds.. Presenters from around the world shared their interesting research, programs, practice and experience in well presented parallel sessions. It was evident that nurses experience similar challenges in caring for their vulnerable neonatal patients. Research undertaken to support the innovative measures nurses are taking to address challenges was encouraging to hear. Two wellresearched, international training programs with excellent teaching materials were received with excitement and enthusiasm. The S.T.A.B.L.E program and Helping Babies Breath programmes both stress the need for immediate skilled intervention after birth and ongoing stabilisation and transfer for more complicated conditions. Both are available online. The need for skilled, trained neonatal nurses was repeatedly stressed in order to cope with this continually changing and highly specialised field of nursing. The huge problem with accessing accredited neonatal advanced practice training in South Africa was highlighted, (This continues to be a big frustration for neonatal nurses). However, nurses were encouraged to avail themselves of the basic and continuous training opportunities that are available e.g. the Perinatal Education Program. A highlight of the social program was the gala dinner on Tuesday evening. Delegates were warmly Fig. 6 Award winners.

5 Guest editorial 5 Fig. 7 Delegates enjoy a warm South African welcome. welcomed in true South African style by the organising committee with ululating, singing and dancing. Vibrant colourful décor set the scene for a drumming session. Delegates participated wholeheartedly building up an appetite for the tasty meal that followed. With high heels off diners then danced the night away to the jazz sounds of Afritude (Fig. 8). With the support of both radio and TV media the 7th International Conference for Neonatal Nursing achieved its aims: To highlight the huge problem of neonatal mortality The role neonatal nurses play in reducing neonatal mortality To raise the profile of neonatal nursing in the country To strengthen COINN and NNASA To increase membership To enhance the development of regional branches To highlight the need for specialised neonatal nurse training To promote international collaboration To stimulate change in neonatal practice based on the best scientific evidence Fig. 8 Gala Dinner.

6 6 Guest editorial To improve neonatal skills To reward neonatal nursing excellence. Before departing the almost 500 delegates were reminded by NNASA President, Ruth Davidge, to Strive for excellence because perfection is God s business. Because things don t always go from bad to worse, they should hold their chins up and keep on persevering. Surely, these neonatal nurses have returned to their units inspired and motivated to make differences in the lives of the precious little ones they serve every day. Ruth Davidge address: Available online 17 December 2010 The 8th International Conference of Neonatal Neonatal Nurses will be held in 2013 in Belfast. We will keep you posted. Available online at

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