August 21, 2016

International Neonatal Nursing Excellence Award 2016 – Adeyemo Abass Kola

Written by Healthy Newborn Network

This post originally appeared on the Healthy Newborn Network.

Nigeria has one of the highest numbers of newborn and maternal deaths globally. Every day, over 1,500 babies (newborns or stillbirths) die and nearly 160 women die from complications in pregnancy or childbirth. Most of these deaths are from preventable conditions notably preterm birth complications, intrapartum related events, and infection.1 An acute shortage of health workers skilled in maternal and newborn health impede progress, especially in the Northern and more rural parts of Nigeria.

In the Zamfara State of Northern Nigeria, one neonatal nurse is working against the odds to save newborn lives, where children face an even higher risk of death due to lead poisoning as a result of unsafe mining and ore processing practices.

Adeyemo Abass Kola leads the local response to lead poisoning crisis treating affected children with Médecins Sans Frontières.2 He works rotating shifts during the day, and sometimes through the night, caring for newborns with lead poisoning or complications such as asphyxia. Sick newborns are also brought into the hospital by mothers without resources to care for or even clothe their babies. “What really makes me want to do my work more is the innocence of the babies…. You see them and you just have to help.”

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