The president of Chad, Idriss Déby – who, in a historic first, visited Israel for the first time since the State of Israel was established - arrived for a visit today at the Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva.
President Déby was received by Dr. Dan Schwarzfuchs, Deputy Director of the Soroka Medical Center and Director of the Internal Medicine ER, Prof. David Greenberg, Director of the Pediatric Division at Soroka and Dr. Agi Golan, Director of the Neonatal and Premature Neonates Unit at Soroka, who discussed the hospital's activity and the premature neonate unit's activity with the President.
Representatives from the Foreign Affairs Ministry chose to arrive at the Soroka Medical Center with the President of Chad and his delegation in light of a special project lead by the NICU at the hospital to decrease neonatal and premature neonate mortality in African countries.
As is well known, neonate mortality in African countries is significantly higher than in developed countries, and there is an interest in reducing the gaps in infrastructure, manpower, and finance. Closing those gaps requires a special approach. In response to these needs, an innovative treatment approach was developed by a team of neonatologists from the Soroka Medical Center: Prof. Miki Karplus, the first Neonatal Unit Director at Soroka; Dr. Eilon Shany, a senior doctor at the department; and Dr. Agi Golan, Director of the Neonatal and Premature Neonates Unit at Soroka.
The special approach is based on efficient but simple low-cost measures, and is mainly based on building local teams and treatment protocols adjusted to location and abilities. Progress is necessarily slow and at a measured pace to ensure long-term success. The approach includes, among other things, the "Kangaroo care" method in which the baby is close to its mother's chest 24/7 and is nourished by its mother's milk, as well as empowering the mother as a caretaker for her child, teaching correct resuscitation in the delivery room, controlled nutrition and the use of breast milk through all developmental stages, infection prevention, and more.
The project is in cooperation with Mashav (Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation) at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Ben-Gurion University, and American philanthropists.
Dr. Agi Golan, Director of the Neonatal Department and NICU at Soroka, enthusiastically recounts: "A project in Ghana started 10 years ago in the city of Kumasi that includes two units. The third unit was already founded under local initiative, so the development of local teams and leaders are the major and chief success of the project.
The neonatologist team at Soroka helped establish the units and train the local teams and continues to accompany them to this day. This year another step was taken, in which more complicated treatments were performed according to the local team's abilities.
In light of the project's success, a program was launched to establish additional units of this type in Africa. The project was presented at international conferences in Africa and South Africa, and is currently a model for neonatal units based on the principles of the units in Kumasi".
The president of Chad was enthusiastic about the project and expressed willingness and hope for a similar cooperative effort in his country. He has already invited the NICU Director and her team to Chad's capital.
Dr. Golan adds: "We believe that cooperation between local professional stakeholders and governmental agents, together with the Soroka team's specialty, can improve neonatal health in developing countries.
The Soroka team is proud to present the project and greatly appreciates the President of Chad's interest in our achievements in the field".