Hungry Delegates

The Eastern Cape NNASA branch is made of 5 Hospitals 2 Public and 3 Private Hospitals in the Nelson Mandela Bay District. We held our annual workshop on the 22nd November at Dora Nginza Hospital, Port Elizabeth.

It was clear nurses are hungry for information as attendance was excellent with 100 delegates attending including doctors from District Hospitals, advanced midwifery students from Lilitha College P E campus and neonatal nurses from around the Eastern Cape.

Thanks to generous support from our trade partners we were able to offer the workshop without a registration fee.

Part of the trade exhibition

Delegates were welcomed by CEO Mr M.P Tsibolane of Dora Nginza Regional Hospital and then followed a packed program with many fascinating topics.

We had varied presenters including et al an ophthalmologist, neonatologist and cardiac specialist. Sr Arna Jenkins from Tygerberg Hospital presented on reducing CLABSI infections and we had Cleft Friends and many more.

The ‘Topic of the Day’ was the Golden Hour by Dr. S Maharaj as it is the starting point for our Neonatal care.

One of our excellent presenters in action.

We were so excited to have 20 delegates signing up as new members of NNASA.

Delegates left having been well fed both physically and intellectually.

Having the workshop so close to World Prematurity Day, in theory, was a good plan but in reality was hectic, as we were all busy with facility celebrations for the day. The plan for 2020, therefore, is to have our next workshop in June after our national NNASA conference in Gauteng (For those who aren’t lucky enough to be able to attend the national conference!) We hope to have an even bigger turnout!

South Africa has seen a steep increase in litigation, where billions of Rand needs to payed out to claimants. In the public sector these payments come from the resources budget, creating a vicious circle and a serious problem. Mediation could be a possible solution to address these matters.

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution with many benefits. Among others it saves tremendous cost compared to litigation. Furthermore, settlement can be reached much quicker whereas litigation takes years which results in those involved being subjected to tremendous levels of stress and uncertainty. By following the Mediation route parents of children with Cerebral Palsy can get treatment for their children much earlier. Moreover, Mediation is focused on restoring trust and relationships between the parties involved.


You may wonder why I bring up Mediation, but in our NICU environment medical errors or unforeseen complications may occur. During those times one probably are worried about future litigation. It is those cases that can be settled quickly though Mediation. Sometimes parents just want to understand what happened. They do not necessarily want a big settlement. Mediators facilitate the communication between the two parties in dispute and create a confidential and non-prejudice environment where both parties can come up with amicable solutions for their dispute. A win-win situation.

However, at this moment some matters had been Mediated successfully, but it is still a new concept and implementation of it will take some time.

Below are a few links to some articles:

Mediation could ease SA’s medico-legal woes but it’s no quick fix

Mediation – an alternative to litigation in medical malpractice

Understanding the medico-legal landscape in South Africa

The Tygerberg Hospital Neonatal Nurses Seminar hosted by Stellenbosch University, supported by NNASA and the Tygerberg Hospital Children’s Trust. 26 November 2019.

Focused delegates.

In the Cape, we are privileged to have cost-free annual seminars, meticulously planned by the respected, energetic and committed Arina Jenkins, the recipient of the Neonatal Nursing Excellence award at the NNASA Conference last year. Arina works in the NICU in the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital. For the last four years, she has arranged wonderful annual seminars which have each been attended by up to 300 neonatal nurses, doctors and allied health professionals from Public and Private Hospitals, clinics, colleges and universities as far afield as Worcester!  The focus of the seminars is to reduce neonatal deaths, reduce neonatal mortality and to better equip the nurses attending, to be advocates for neonates. This approach was chosen because Millennium Development Goal 4 (to reduce child mortality) was not successfully achieved regarding the reduction of neonatal mortality by the end of 2015. Information regarding the Sustainable Development Goal 3 (to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages) was shared as the foundation for the seminar.

Great turnout.

This year the theme was ‘Ending preventable neonatal deaths’, focusing on infection which has been identified as the third major cause of neonatal deaths worldwide. Presenters included doctors and nurses with a very special final presentation by Arina, introducing mothers and their NICU graduates to the delegates.

The first presentation of the morning set the scene for the seminar, with information about the Sustainable Development Goal 3, focusing on the impact of neonatal sepsis and what action is needed to make an impact on this critical area in NICU care. The morning continued with presentations on the management of neonatal sepsis, necrotising enterocolitis, antibiotic resistance and the necessary actions required to prevent antibiotic resistance in the NICU, which gave the delegates much food for thought. Nurses’ presentations included infection surveillance and the prevention of outbreaks, and an inspiring group presentation by the nurses from a neonatal ward, who implemented steps to make a significant and continuing impact on the prevention of Central Line-associated Bloodstream Infections in the neonatal wards at Tygerberg Hospital.

After lunch we were educated about a new dressing that is a prevents bacteria from multiplying in a wound. Then we met a number of NICU graduates whose mothers touched our hearts, assuring us that our work is well worth it!

There was wonderful representation and support from our colleagues who supply the NICUs with equipment and support. Delegates were given a goodie bag, there were lucky draw prizes and generous food supplied for tea and lunch! We left after 15h00 feeling well stimulated, educated and challenged to continue with the satisfying and rewarding work that we do.

World Prematurity Day 2019: Parents at the helm, babies #BornTooSoon at the heart

From healthy Newborn Network: Mary KinneyAmialya Durairaj

World Prematurity Day, which takes place on 17 November, is a key day in the global health calendar that reaches millions of people each year through the media and events all over the world to ensure that the preterm birth prevention and care remain a global health priority. The theme for this year’s World Prematurity Day was Born too Soon: the right care, at the right time, in the right place. HNN celebrated it along with partners and, while we are still tallying results, it is clear that activities took place in more countries than ever before.

A glimpse at history

World Prematurity Day started with parents. The first international awareness day for preterm birth on 17 November was launched by European parent organizations in 2008. It has since evolved into a worldwide annual observance by development agencies, governments, professional associations, hospitals and parents.

Parents have always played a central role in the care of preterm babies. With developments in science, health care systems and social norms, their role evolved.

For most of history, families, especially women, were primarily responsible for all newborn care in the home environment. With a wave of advancements designed to improve survival in higher income countries in the late 19th and early 20th century, parents were excluded from the caregiving for hospitalized babies, partly due to concerns about infection. The result of this separation between newborns and parents had adverse consequences, including reduced bonding, neglect and abuse, as well as other physical and emotional issues for both parents and their children.

The right to be together

By the mid-20th century, the unintended consequences of this separation were beginning to be recognized by advocacy communities. New groups emerged led by parents in the U.S., Britain and Australia, and successfully lobbied for family-friendly hospital-wide changes, such as the families’ right to stay with their children. Parents also had a fundamental role in raising awareness among nurses and physicians that even very preterm newborns feel pain and discomfort.

Parents have a vital role to play in small and sick newborn care. As they consistently care for their own newborn, they can become “patient experts” with a deep knowledge of health issues. They often observe newborn responses, interact with the health-care team and meet with other parents and support groups.

Some parents will even study their newborn’s condition, engage in health research, and become active with public health and policy advocacy and lobbying. As a result, parents of small and sick newborns are a great asset as advisors to inpatient newborn care units seeking to improve quality, safety and family-centered care.

By working with local and regional parent support organizations, health-care providers and facility managers can provide or supplement resources to promote partnerships between parents and health-care teams, and influence policies and practices for affected families.

In all instances, it is critical to keep babies #BornTooSoon at the heart of all interventions, ensuring that their rights and their families’ rights are upheld and protected.

Learn about the role of parents, newborn care, rights and much more:

So many of our hospitals around the country now celebrate WPD. Here is a taste of some of those celebrations. We encourage you all to get active next year-Its a great time to celebrate your successes and raise awareness of the needs of our precious babies.

Sadly this will be my last message as President. After 13 years it has come time for me to step down as President of NNASA. I will be leaving you in the capable hands of Carin Maree and the rest of the board. Don’t despair-I will remain on the board to assist and support them during this transition. Thank you to all who have contributed to and supported NNASA thus far. Together we are greater than the sum of our parts! I look forward to all that NNASA and our members will achieve in the years to come.

NNASA was founded at the end of 2006 by a passionate group of KZN neonatal nurses who had a vision to unite and support neonatal nurses in South Africa and beyond. Since that time we have grown to include members in most provinces, the public and private sector, universities and in the trade. We have strengthened bonds with other associations eg SOMSA and USANA and are represented on many national/ international organisations eg  COINN, FUNDISA, SACSoWACH and Forum for Professional Nursing Associations et al. We have hosted 8 National conferences and 1 International conference. We have a few members beyond our boarders and as of this last month have been joined by the newly formed Kenyan Neonatal Nurses Association and have interest from a nurse in Ghana. Our passion is spreading!

Founding Board

I thought it would be a good time to reflect on our three core values: Care, Passion and Excellence.


“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, and honest accomplishment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around!” Leo Buscalgia

On those days when our work seems overwhelming and it is tempting to just go through the motions, to seek greener pastures or to finally give up-remember the incredible privilege we have been given: to mold a life! The potential of that precious prem’s future is in our hands. At no other time in their life does nursing play such a crucial role in saving and shaping their life as in their first month.

Take time to swaddle, give sucrose, provide skin to skin care, engage with families, provide breast milk,  touch, take photos and do all those little things. It is in those moments that it all becomes worthwhile.


At our conference last year, inspired by President Ramaphosa’s ‘Tuma Mina’ call, we lit sparklers and each recommitted ourselves to giving of our best in caring for our precious babies.

“Passion begins when a fire is lit inside us but it always seeks outward expression. Our passions energise us to take action. If we are passionate about something, we will give it our all! If a goal or endeavor is important enough to us, we can transform even a daunting challenge into a deeply engaging process by charging our effort with inner passion.”  2012-Celebrations of life.


“We are what we repeatedly do-therefore excellence is not an act but a habit.” Aristotle

 “Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude” Ralph Martson.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome. From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” Arthur Ashe.

Pursuit of money and position will only grant momentary happiness but when you impact a life for good its ripples impact you and the receiver for life. Assess what is motivating and driving the decisions and actions you make. In desiring to give of your best in service to others you are seeking a treasure that money cannot buy.

Nelson Mandela said:  “Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest assets as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth and those who care for and protect our people.”

I therefore charge you to guard our future well-serve your babies and their families with care, passion and excellence. Unite with other nurses and the people of our beautiful rainbow nation in seeking “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—anything that is excellent or praiseworthy” Philippians 4:8

As we are only holding our conferences biannually it is very difficult to try and hold a face to face AGM. We have therefore decided, this year, to hold it electronically. You can download the “minutes” from our meeting by clicking below.

Should anyone have any questions, concerns or matters they would like to raise with the board please email us on

NNASA will be hosting its 9th National Neonatal Nurses Conference from 3-4 June 2020 at the Wanderer’s club in Johannesburg-Yes we are finally coming to Gauteng again! On the Gautrain bus route and with plentiful accommodation options in the area there is no excuse not to come.

The conference theme is Purposeful Passion and you don’t want to miss this one as we are doing things a little differently this year …. Following our usual 2 full conference days we are hosting an all day trade exhibition. This will be open to all health professionals working with neonates. Picture workshops, presentations, food stalls and lots of networking!

So start planning today! Send your abstracts to We look forward to seeing you there.

It’s World Breastfeeding Week celebrating “Empower Parents: Enable Breastfeeding “No matter who you are – you can join the conversation or take action to encourage, promote, support and protect  the mothers right to breastfeed her baby for  better  growth, health and development.

South Africa has come far from a breast feeding rate of 8% in 2003 to 32% in 2016 but still falls far short of the global target of a 50% breastfeeding rate in the 1st 6 months.

Click below to find out more about how breast feeding can benefit both mother and baby.

This World Breastfeeding Week, take the pledge, join the conversation and action to encourage, promote, support and protect the rights of women to breastfeed. You can do this by making a statement on social media or sharing your activity or community initiatives in support of breastfeeding for a greater impact. For more information click below.

#WeBreastfeed #WBW2019ZA#BreastfeedingDialogues #sidebysideSA

In May, NNASA was proudly represented by Carin Marais and Ruth Davidge who both presented at the 10th International Neonatal Nurses Conference in Auckland, New Zealand. As members of NNASA part of your membership fee goes to COINN and NNASA members are therefore members of COINN and currently represented on the COINN board by Carin.

Before the conference officially opened delegates had the opportunity to attend workshops one of which included a unit tour of Starship Children’s Hospital’s Neontal unit and the head quarters of Fisher and Paykel. What a privilege to visit such a beautiful unit! The thought and particularly the nursing input that had gone into its design were evident. There was a wonderful mix of technology, space and family and staff areas. Visiting Fisher and Paykel was also an incredible experience. To see the stringent quality control systems that are in place and the very organized work spaces (even to tape on the floor demarcating where the waste bin should go!) was incredibly comforting to a very OCD neonatal nurses brain.

The opening ceremony included a wonderful cultural Maori ceremony. This theme of being culturally thoughtful, relevant and inclusive was evident throughout the conference. It was followed by an excellent speech by COINN president Carole Kenner focussing on the role neonatal nurses need to play in advocating strongly at every level for the needs of neonate. It was followed by the presentation of Neonatal Nursing Excellence awards. The cocktail party was a wonderful opportunity to renew old friendships, make new acquaintances, explore the large trade exhibition of 36 stalls and generally let your hair down.

The conference theme was Enriched Family-Enhanced Care and delegates were inspired on the first day by presentations from Heidelise Als, the 80 year old doctor, who first introduced the world to the idea of individualized developmentally supportive neonatal care through the NIDCAP program. This was a fitting start to the conference that constantly reinforced the important role of families and the need to integrate them into every level of care including drafting guidelines and research. This was very relevant as we are considering an expanded role for mothers in South Africa to empower them to observe their own babies. It was also reassuring to see that every country in its own way has challenges to overcome. A presentation from China was fascinating as they shared their struggle to introduce KMC in the face of traditional beliefs that the mother cannot leave her room for the first month after birth. There were also in depth breakfast sessions on skin care and feeding guidelines. It really was inspiring to hear the influence neonatal nurses can have to change practices in their units and countries when they have knowledge, experience, passion and confidence to step out and speak up!

The gala dinner was a splendid affair organized and decorated by the Starship neonatal unit staff. All the delegates went to great effort to dress according to the Gatsby theme. The delegates were given a wonderful history lesson about the start of neonatal intensive care which began during this period of the 1920s as an entertainment exhibit at Coney Island. We also had a moving dance tribute from your dancers many of whom were ex prems saying thank you for the care neonatal nurses give. We left feeling motivated, inspired, challenged, energized and sad to say goodbye to our like minded global family. See you in 20121 in Aalborg, Denmark!

For the past 19 years I have been lecturing to the 4th Year Medical Students regarding the care of the most vulnerable of all patients….the preterm baby.

What do you need to let a Dream come TRUE???…..A dreamer.

One amazing young student, Johane Potgieter who understood the risks of Hypothermia for these little ones.

In her own words  ” I had the privilege of meeting these tiny miracles who came through the doors of the NICU. Their fighting spirits inspired me to reach out and make a difference.”

She saw the need… and realised that many of the moms do not have the means to provide their preterm infant with beanies and socks

And this was the birth of The Beanies4Babies Project

Their dream

Their dream is to provide comfort and support to approximately 150 premature infants admitted to Pelonomi and Universitas’s NICU by providing each infant with his or her own pair of knitted socks and a beanie. This gift is given to them as soon as they arrive in the NICU and are theirs to keep when they are discharged.  

These girls rely solely rely on donations, whether financial, wool or hands to knit, and are always in need of more donations, either financially or product (wool).

The vision is to expand their dream and relieve the burden nationwide in the NICU’s of South African state hospitals.

This initiative has now expanded to Dora Ngiza in Port Elizabeth…..which hospital will be next???

How can I get involved???

  • Start knitting!!!
  • Or donate 4-thread wool (baby) and Nr 4 knitting needles.
  • Or get grandma’s in Old age home’s in your hospital area involved, to become part of a much bigger picture. Knitting is a sure cure for boredness and depression.
  • Financial support.

Banking details:     

MACAH Foundation NPC Nedbank Br: 198-765 Acc: 114-270-2030 Ref: B4B Name or Company name  

PLEASE send proof of payment to: or

We look forward to your involvement and willingness to be part of our caring project.

Contact details:

Project Leader Project Leader MACAH F Coordinator
Johane Potgieter 076 392 5658 Clarette Cronje 076 975 4969 Tertia de Bruin 082 808 6099