Units meant to stabilise unwell newborns will have four beds and pulse oximeters each

The Chennai Corporation’s maternity centres will soon have special facilities to stabilise newborns who are unwell.

Funds have been sanctioned for stabilisation units at five of the 16 maternity centres, and work has already begun at the Saidapet centre.

Corporation officials said the plan was to set up units at all centres in a phased manner. The proposal is being implemented by the State government based on guidelines issued under the National Rural Health Mission.

Each air-conditioned stabilisation unit will have four beds, two photo-therapy units and pulse oximeters.

“The beds are actually warmers that will maintain the infant at the right temperature,” explained S. Srinivasan, State nodal officer for neonatal facilities, Institute of Child Health (ICH). The photo-therapy units will treat babies born with jaundice.

On an average, health department officials estimate that three of every 100 babies born face problems at birth. Currently, infants who show signs of distress are referred to Government Children’s Hospital, to which the ICH is attached, a health department official at the Corporation said.

Some of the commonest problems among newborns are hypothermia, respiratory problems and jaundice – all of which require minimal intervention and can be treated by nurses trained in neonatal care, Dr. Srinivasan said.

Each unit will have three nurses trained to handle minor illnesses, resuscitate the infant and start IV fluids. This will reduce the load at the bigger maternity hospitals, Dr. Srinivasan said.

“Sometimes it takes more than two hours for the baby to be brought to a better facility. The delay could mean more complications. We want to reduce that as every minute counts,” Dr. Srinivasan added.

Saidapet is a favourite, as for two consecutive terms, this assembly constituency has produced Mayors. Between 2006 and 2011, it was represented by M. Subramanian and now Saidai Doraisamy hails from the locality.

According to the health department, inspections were held at various maternity centres recently. Other centres that will receive the newborn stabilisation units include the centres in Adyar, Ayanavaram, Pulianthope and Vadapalani.

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