Top international award for Indian nurse

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 Durban yesterday.

"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 Ruth Davidge.

"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 the Children.

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.

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