Neonatal Transport Network Services: Preparedness of healthcare systems in Southern Nigeria

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Elizabeth-Martha Chinyere Okorie
Datonye Christopher Briggs
Peace Ibo Opara
Augusta Unoma Eneh


Neontal transport, Sick neonates, Emergency transport team, Port Harcourt


Background: Nigeria remains a major contributor to neonatal deaths worldwide, yet little consideration has been given to intra/inter health facility transfer of sick neonates. The dearth of Neonatal Transport Network Services (NNTS) is probably an underappreciated driver of the abysmally high national neonatal mortality indices. This study aims to evaluate neonatal transport services among health facilities in Port Harcourt Metropolis,

Methods: Twenty-eight selected health facilities (tertiary, private hospitals Primary Health Centers] were assessed on the availability, modality and practice of NNTS. Data was analyzed using SPSS Version 23.

Results: Routine transfer of high-risk pregnant mothers to higher levels of care occurred always in 14 (50%) and sometimes in 6 (21.4%) facilities; Private cars and taxes were the most common mode of transport in 24 (85.7%) facilities. Two facilities (7.2%) had ambulances equipped with transport incubators. Nurses and nurse attendants with no formal training in NNTS accompanied referred neonates in 2 (7.2%) facilities. Most referring facilities (78.6%) neither rarely or never contacted receiving centers before the arrival of neonates and most nor gave back referrals after offering neonatal care. None (100%) of the facilities had a trained emergency transport team.

Conclusion: Health facilities in Southern Nigeria lack standardized Neonatal Transport Network characterized by poor communication between health facilities and inadequate trained personnel for inter-facility transfer of sick neonates. Urgent action is required to address these gaps, including training of healthcare workers on neonatal transport and sharing findings with relevant stakeholders/policymakers to establish a functional neonatal transport network among health facilities.

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