PETALING JAYA: A National Neonatal Registry will be set up to compile information in a move to improve neonatal care and bring down the death rate among newborns.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the registry, scheduled to be ready by the end of the year, would allow health authorities to assess the state of neonatal care in the country.
This reporting system is not compulsory for healthcare facilities in the private and public sector, but it will help the ministry obtain a clearer picture of the causes of neonatal deaths and the risks involved, he said.
Neonatal care is given to infants in their first month of life.
Dr Chua said the registry would gather information on the frequency and distribution of critically ill newborns and would study the strengths and weaknesses of centres providing neonatal care.
Data collected from the registry will enable us to review our policies and improve the services we provide, he told a press conference after opening the 13th Congress of the Federation of Asia and Oceania Perinatal Societies here yesterday.
He said healthcare facilities from both private and public sectors should co-operate with the ministry to formulate programmes to improve the level of neonatal care, adding that the ministry had initially allocated RM50,000 to set up the registry.
Dr Chua said Malaysia had significantly reduced its perinatal (the period from the 22nd week of pregnancy to the first week of life) mortality rate from 55 deaths per 1,000 births in 1955 to 6.1 per 1,000 births in 2001.
We intend to further reduce the rates to make them comparable to those of developed countries like Japan, which records four deaths per 1,000 births, he said.
Dr Chua said the target would be met in about 10 to 15 years.
He said one of the problems was the shortage of paediatricians.
Malaysia only has 570 paediatricians while the ideal number is 1,400. This is the reason we train nurses and other health personnel to have basic knowledge in neonatal care, he said.
Dr Chua said the ministry had trained 1,200 personnel each year for the past 10 years, adding that they would be retrained every two years to upgrade their knowledge in this field.
Medical staff are trained to deal promptly with newborns who have breathing difficulties or other similar risks, he said.
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