The first day of life is the most dangerous! Neonatal nurses care for sick and small babies in their first month of life – the most vulnerable time in their lives. This requires highly specialised and skilled care to ensure these precious babies grow up with the best possible quality of life.
Unfortunately in South Africa there is no formal training to equip nurses to deliver this care. Nurses feel isolated, nervous and ill prepared to care for this small population of patients.
It was evident that they needed support. In 2007 in KZN the Neonatal Nurses Association of Southern Africa was launched to try and provide this much needed support.
This association aims to improve the delivery of optimal, holistic nursing care for all babies born in Southern Africa through ongoing communication, support, education and setting of standards amongst neonatal nurses in this country and internationally.
– Regular regional meetings.
– Annual national meetings.
– Provision of a news letter/journal.
– Formation of evidence based, best practice guidelines and policy statements.
– Promotion of a multidisciplinary, holistic approach to neonatal care.
– Fostering of good relationships, sharing of knowledge and communication between neonatal units both within and between provinces and amongst provincial and private institutions.
– Liaison with other professional nursing organizations in SA eg Midwives and critical care nurse associations
– Membership of The Council of International Neonatal Nurses(COINN)
With a database of over 450 nurses caring for babies, NNASA unites and speaks for nurses in both the public and private sectors with a representation of approximately 62% and 28% respectively.Our membership demographics reflect 48% black, 30% white, 8% Indian and 6% coloured. Our branches are growing and include Durban, Capetown, Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein.
NNASA has achieved national and (together with COINN) international recognition as a voice for neonatal care with board members being invited to the WHO Health Care Professional Associations meeting in Malawi in 2007, the 1st Global Newborn Care Conference -2013; The Global Newborn Action Plan Country Consultation meeting -2013; The Partnership for Maternal, Child and Newborn Health Forum -2014 (As a member of the South African CSO Coalition for Woman’s, Adolescents and Child Health, NNASA cohosted a pre conference event: A common thread: Reaching Every Woman and every Newborn) ; the 10th International KMC Conference in Rwanda -2014 (including pre conference consultation meetings with Save the Children). A NNASA board member was also a co-author for Chapter 5 of the International Born Too Soon Report.
NNASA is actively involved in lobbying for recognised post basic neonatal nurse training in South Africa. This has included meeting in 2011 with The Honourable Aaron Motsoeledi -National Minister of Health and the Ministerial Task Team for Nurse training and two subsequent meetings with the South African Nursing Council.
NNASA has hosted 6 National Conferences and in 2010 just 3 years after our inception we successfully hosted the 7thInternational COINN Conference. There were close to 500 delegates from 19 countries. It was one of the few COINN conferences to actually make a profit, both for NNASA and COINN and we saw the launch of the International Neonatal Nurse Excellence awards in collaboration with Saving Newborn Lives.