NEST360° improves COVID-19 readiness in provision of neonatal care in Malawi

The NEST360° partnership in Malawi, with support from The ELMA Relief Foundation, is working in collaboration with Malawi’s Ministry of Health (MoH) to improve COVID-19 preparedness and response in district, central and mission hospitals throughout the county, particularly around maternal and newborn care.

The NEST360° led outreach efforts for COVID-19 preparedness are focused on improving clinical staff knowledge of and capacity for respiratory support and infection prevention and control (IPC). Through national supportive visits to district, central and mission hospitals, the MoH is assessing gaps in the service delivery within the context of COVID-19 and reinforcing routine IPC practices to contain the spread of infections within health facilities even beyond COVID-19.

During these supportive visits, MoH supervisors coordinate with hospital management on strategies around: IPC, patient flow, allocation of appropriate space for isolation in newborn units and encouraging the continuation of Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC).The visits have served as an opportunity to disseminate key resources designed by NEST360° and its partners to aid health workers in adapting neonatal care to the current COVID-19 context. Informed by this collaborative needs identification process, efforts are focused to most appropriately and effectively improve the care and working environment for patients and healthcare workers in response to the challenges that COVID-19 present.

At all facilities, meeting the challenge of procuring adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers remains necessary to keep health providers safe and increase morale. Through the grant from The ELMA Relief Foundation, NEST360° is able to help address some of the main challenges in service delivery consistently seen across facilities: support for procurement of PPE and essential equipment as well as funding for increased health worker coverage where needed.

Jointly, NEST360° and the Malawi MoH have covered 36 district, central and mission hospitals in Malawi to date. The NEST360° partnership remains committed to mothers and babies in Malawi, and to working with stakeholders to provide high quality care for small and sick newborns even as the country adjusts to the emergence of COVID-19.