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United Nation Development Programme Malaysia | News Details

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Innovative nursing approaches

Sunday March 4, 2012

A training programme for nurses aims to improve standards of care for pregnant women and new mothers.

IN the past few weeks, The Star has highlighted the issue of the decline in the standard of nursing care in the country.

Fortituously, at around the same time, four of Malaysia’s premier professional bodies and expert NGOs launched a collaborative initiative to help make a positive difference to care during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period.

This initiative is called Mi-CARE (Maternal and Infant-CARE), and is spearheaded by the Obstetrics and Gynaecological Society of Malaysia (OGSM), the National Midwives’ Society of Malaysia (NMSM), Nutrition Society of Malaysia (NSM) and Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA).

In fact, Mi-CARE is in line with the nation’s pledge to achieve the fourth and fifth United Nations Millennium Development Goal, which essentially aims to drastically reduce infant and maternal mortality rates in Malaysia by the year 2015.

Dr Krishna Kumar is the chairman of Mi-CARE, and president of the OGSM. Here, he shares his thoughts about the initiative.

Dr Krishna, despite the many hats you wear, you have taken up an extremely active role in Mi-CARE. Tell us what was it that motivated you to embark on this mission.

Pregnancy is an amazing life-changing experience in a woman’s life. It is also a vulnerable time for her. I cannot stress enough the vital need for good pregnancy and infant care, which a woman requires during this critical period, as well as after birth, which stems actually from constructive interaction with healthcare providers and positive lifestyle measures that she takes herself.

Mi-CARE can help achieve this ideal reality, whereby pregnant and new mothers are well taken care of by nursing staff who are well-trained and fully equipped with specialised knowledge on all aspects of maternal and infant healthcare.

Further, in my opinion, although Malaysia as a developing country has relatively good medical facilities, the fact is that the mortality of both mothers and infants still exists. If any complications arise during delivery, a mother’s safety is a priority as her life and the life of her baby are at risk.

By equipping both healthcare providers and pregnant women with relevant pre-natal and post-natal information, advice, as well as warning signs to beware of, we can avoid such pregnancy-related complications, and hopefully, the issue of maternal and infant mortality will not exist within our society any longer.

Can you tell us more about this Mi-CARE programme and how it will help in promoting better pregnancy, birth and infant care?

Dr Krishna ... The aim of this programme is to ensure nurses, nurse aides and midwives are fully equipped and empowered with up-to-date and specialised knowledge related to pregnancy, labour, birth and post-partum care.

The programme comprises of a series of nurses’ training workshops nationwide. It is essentially based on a “train-the-trainers” format. Mi-CARE is aimed at key nursing staff and midwives employed in maternity centres, private and government clinics.

The workshops cover 11 key modules, and these include: care of pregnant women, nutrition during pregnancy, birth, postpartum care, nutrition during lactation, postpartum family planning, breastfeeding and common problems, neonatal care, complementary feeding, caring for the newborn, and mental health during and after pregnancy.

The aim of this programme is to ensure nurses, nurse aides and midwives are fully equipped and empowered with up-to-date and specialised knowledge related to pregnancy, labour, birth and post-partum care. With this, the ultimate aim is that these nurses in turn are in a better position to provide more in-depth advice and counseling to their patients.

Besides empowering nursing staff through these workshops, Mi-CARE also aims to reach out to mothers via a telephone advisory centre (1800-88-9033) with a toll-free number manned either by a nutritionist or a trained nurse.

I understand that the contents of the training workshops have been wholly developed by a team of experts from the obstetrics and gynaecology, nutrition, physiotherapy and paediatric backgrounds. Who will actually be training the nurses in these series of workshops?

The experts from their respective professional bodies will be delivering the eleven designated modules, all focusing on knowledge related to pregnancy, birth and infant care.

Rest assured that all the speakers nominated to present each module are in fact very experienced and senior professionals or specialists in their respective fields.

As a nurse, what should I expect to gain from attending the workshops?

First and foremost, workshop attendees should not be expecting anything conventional or orthodox. We do not carry out passive learning, but rather, we want these nurses to engage us, and together, we learn how to deal with mothers and infants the appropriate way.

The training programme specifically includes a two-day training workshop that will be conducted in various locations throughout Peninsular Malaysia.

By going through these workshops, nurses and nurse aides will be able to stay updated on matters related to pregnancy, labour, birth and postpartum care. This will enable them to provide more effective care to mothers, recognise potential problems, keep track of mothers’ progress, and be more involved in the pregnancy.

Also, each nurse who attends the training workshop will be given a detailed reference manual and counselling aids that provide more in-depth information on common maternal issues and problems.

At the end of the two-day workshop, nurses and nurse aides will qualify for a very prestigious certificate awarded by Mi-CARE’s four expert bodies, and to top it off, attending nurses will be awarded Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points to aid their career development.

Can you tell us more about the toll-free line?

The toll-free line is open to all expecting mothers and new mothers who have questions about their health and nutrition, as well as that of their baby. It is open from Monday to Friday, from 10am–5pm. Doctors wishing to enroll their nurses in this programme, or even nurses themselves who want to participate, can call the number or contact Mei Chieng at 012-2880866.

Is this a one-year programme or a long-term one?

This is a long-term programme as it is not easy to empower nurses in just a few workshops.

To reach out and educate nurses on pre and post-pregnancy care across the country, many more workshops and activities will have to be carried out.

This year, we hope to train about 500 nurses, and we hope to increase this number throughout the years. We hope that these nurses will, in turn, touch thousands of mothers throughout the country.

After the nurses have undergone this training programme, what can be expected next?

After undergoing this training, the nurses will become an even more valuable asset to clinics as they will be accorded the title of Mi-CARE resident nurse. Doctors will also benefit from this as they will now have nurses who give a higher standard of patient care at their practice.

The participating clinics where these nurses work will also be awarded a special Mi-CARE badge, endorsed by the four expert NGOs, which will be displayed at the clinic’s entrance.

What do you hope to see in the future on the management of pregnancy care in Malaysia?

I hope to see more qualified nurses educating and advising mothers, especially first-time mothers, on pre-pregnancy and post-pregnancy care.

I also hope that the relationship between healthcare providers, specifically nurses, and mothers will be strengthened.

However, nurses can only do so much. Mothers themselves must take care of their own health and take the initiative to empower themselves with maternal and infant care knowledge.

There should also be more efforts by the public and private sectors to educate women on maternal and infant care.

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