Durban: A committed Indian nurse has been
honoured with the first International Neonatal Nursing
Excellence Award, in recognition of her commitment for working
on the frontlines of newborn care in resource-challenged
countries, where the majority of newborn deaths occur.
Rekha Kashinath Samant from Mumbai and Regina Obeng from
Kumasi in Ghana were selected from nominations sent from all
over the world to receive the award at the opening ceremony of
the 7th International Conference of the Neonatal Nurses at the
Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in
"Regina and Rekha were selected over many outstanding
candidates for their unwavering leadership and passion for
ensuring every new-born has a chance to survive and thrive,"
said Neonatal Nurses Association of Southern Africa President
"Both work in new-born care units in very busy teaching
hospitals in urban areas. Even in these facilities, we cannot
take good care for granted; it has to be developed and
defended by committed professionals.
"Many of the millions of new-born deaths that occur in
Africa and South Asia could be prevented with greater numbers
of skilled health professionals," said Dr Joy Lawn, director
of Global Evidence and Policy for Saving Newborn Lives at Save
Samant is a senior staff nurse in the Neonatal Intensive
Care Unit at King Edward Medical Hospital and Seth Gordhandas
Sunderdas Medical College in Mumbai.
She is a national trainer in Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC)
and the KMC Unit at her hospital is internationally recognised
as a centre of excellence.
"Rekha is an intelligent, sincere, passionate and
extremely dependable nurse who has excellent acumen in the
management of new-born babies," said an unnamed colleague, who
nominated her for the award.
Speaking to PTI after receiving the award, an elated
Samant said her award was the result of teamwork and support
from her seniors.
She said the most moving story of her 20-year career as a
neo-natal nurse was one fifteen years ago when police brought
in a battered day-old baby girl found in a dustbin who was not
expected to survive.
"I still have a mental image of that child which
disturbed me greatly. But with teamwork and dedicated care, we
made sure she survived despite many complications.
We named her Asha, meaning Hope, and she was adopted by
an Australian couple after spending a year in our care".
Samant said the special message that she had for her
colleagues all over India was to see neo-natal care as being
even more critical than pre-natal support.