Chinese doctors get German help on neonatal care

Updated: Oct 21, 2019 Print
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A total of 125 Chinese doctors have participated in a Sino-German training program on neonatal respiratory care aimed at improving the survival rate of newborns in the country, especially in its less developed regions, since the program was launched in 2017.

The program, initiated by the Shanghai-based Children's Hospital of Fudan University and the German International Cooperation Organization under the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2017, introduces standard and effective respiratory treatment techniques originated in Germany to Chinese doctors, according to Zhou Wenhao, vice-president of the children's hospital, on Oct 10 upon conclusion of a training session.

"Respiratory treatment is a key issue in neonatal medicine," Zhou said. "Around 16 million babies are born in China each year and roughly 10 percent are born premature with a high incidence of respiratory failure, which is the leading cause of newborn deaths in the country."

Official statistics from Shanghai Health Commission and the national commission showed that infant mortality rate in Shanghai was 3.52 per 1,000 live births last year, which is on par with developed nations, while the national infant mortality rate was 6.1 per 1,000.

"The significance of the program lies in training teachers," Zhou said. "When 100 doctors master the techniques and return to their cities and hospitals, they will pass on their skills and knowledge to 1,000, and even 10,000 neonatologists."

"Our ultimate goal is that in every medical ward that treats newborns, there will be a master of skills treating respiratory failures," Zhou said.

The program, the first of its kind in China which will last through 2020, is open to neonatologists across the country, who can apply to the Shanghai hospital, according to Zhou. They can participate in the training in the hospital or five other children's hospitals respectively in Chongqing municipality and provinces of Guangdong, Hunan, Shaanxi, and Shandong, which function as secondary training centers for different regions.

Zhou added that there are another 20 hospitals in smaller cities involved in the program.

Wu Jingyan, education and training director at the Shanghai hospital, said the advantage of the training, each lasting eight days and with the participation of at least one doctor from Germany, lies in its simulation-based, hands-on clinical practice combining international best practices and Chinese circumstance adaptation, said Wu.

"For example, we may simulate having a baby born after 28 weeks of pregnancy and weighed at 800 grams, which is commonly seen in a Chinese hospital, " she said.

Jiang Bo, a doctor from the Zhongshan Hospital affiliated to Xiamen University in Fujian province and a trainee in the program, said that veteran professors explained the procedures of noninvasive and invasive respiratory supports fairly clearly with typical clinical cases in China and Germany, which will help her and her colleagues work better in saving babies' lives.

Zhou said the Sino-German collaboration may extend to other neonatal medical areas, including nerves, heart, and nutrition, in the coming years as the training model matures.

He explained that China's collaboration with Europe in neonatal respiratory care dates back to the 1990s as leading doctors from distinguished hospitals were sent abroad for study and exchange programs.

Malu Dreyer, minister-president of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate of Germany, said it is a pleasure to see that through the program the standardized operation that originated in Germany has now taken root in the Shanghai hospital and spread to many local and smaller hospitals in China.

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