Sunday, November 22, 2009

NRT Miracles

November 5, 2009

Again, we’ve had a week filled with little miracles.  We have been working on DIC's Neonatal Resuscitation Training Project (NRT) which will bring doctors and equipment from the USA next year to teach birth attendants how to resuscitate newborn babies who are having breathing difficulties.  As the time neared for Dr. Michael Preece to arrive here in UB to help us plan the project, however, we became more and more worried.  We have really tried to make contacts and set up appointments so we would be ready to meet with him.  We have talked to many government officials and doctors, but even though we have tried many times, we have been unsuccessful in setting up appointments with the Ministry of Health.  We have worked at it from several angles and still no appointment.

Thanks to the wheelchairs DIC donated to Mongolia and the good media coverage DIC received, many doors to governors’ offices and hospital directors’ were opened to us.  We have met with the directors of all of the main hospitals in Ulaanbaatar and had VIP tours of some of them. We have also met with the Governors or Assistant Governors and the Ministries of Health in Bayanzurk District, Darkhan, Bulgan, Zuun-Kharaa, and Erdenet who are all interested in being part of the Neonatal Project.  We also met with the directors of the maternity hospitals in those cities/aimags and had tours of their hospitals.

Soyolmaa arranged for us to meet an  influential woman in the Office of the President of Mongolia who came to Buyanzurkh to meet with us as a favor to Soyolmaa. Normally, meeting with the Ministry of Health should have been our first contact, but as of the day before Dr. Preece arrived, we still hadn’t been able to make an appointment with anyone from the Ministry of Health, and we still didn’t know who our champion was going to be.

However, the day before Dr. Preece arrived, Soyolmaa finally gave us the phone numbers she had received from her friend in the Office of the President.  Chintuya called them and even though they were in the middle of the Swine Flu panic, Chintuya was able to get appointments for us to meet with them.  She, also, set up appointments for us to meet with the head doctors of the Maternity and Child Care Research Hospital (MCH), Enkhee from the Swanson Family Foundation, and the head of the Association of Small Clinics. 

Our first appointment was with the head of the Maternity and Child Care Research Hospital.  When we arrived at our appointment to meet with him, he told us that he had to leave because he had to attend an emergency meeting about the Swine Flu.  As he turned the meeting over to his able assistant, he told us that she would speak for him.  Then he hurried out of the room. As we talked to her, we found out that in addition to her job at the MCH, she is also the secretary for the Association of Neonataologists and her boss was its director. She said they tried to have an annual meeting, but because of a lack of funds, hadn’t been able to meet this year.  Dr. Preece was really excited.  He said that it would be a dream come true to be able to have these doctors come to Ulaanbaatar and be able to train them to be trainers and then for them to go out into their Aimags and train other doctors and midwives on how to do neonatal resuscitation.   She agreed.  She said it has been her dream to have all of the doctors/midwives who assist in births to be trained to save babies who have asphyxia at birth.  We found our champion! 

Perhaps if we had met with the Ministry of Health first or if the head of the MCH hadn’t had an emergency meeting because of the Swine Flu, it wouldn’t have turned out like this, but Dr. Preece is excited because things are falling together very well. If they turn out the way it looks like they will, within two or three years, all of the doctors/midwives in Mongolia who assist in births will receive training in this procedure and the equipment they need to use it.  Hopefully, the lives of many Mongolian babies will be saved.

We had more follow-up meetings and more talking and more planning, but it looks good.  We are grateful for the guidance and inspiration of the Spirit and for the tender mercies we saw this week.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Soylomaa and her husband drove us to Zuun-Kharaa.  When we arrived, Soyolmaa, Elder Lasson and I received a warm reception by the Governor of Zuun Kharaa, who was excited we wanted to put a water well in his city.  Also, during Elder Lasson’s introduction, the governor’s eyes lit up when Elder Lasson mentioned our neonatal project.  He said that during the last year eight babies in his town had died at birth and they were really concerned about it.  He immediately called the head of the local hospital to come and talk to us.  We followed her to the hospital where she told us that her staff had been really distraught over having eight babies die this year. She said they were really wondering if they weren’t good doctors and they had even had counseling sessions for their doctors who felt very distraught.  She said they performed autopsies on the babies and discovered exactly what we had been describing.  The babies’ lungs were not inflated.  She said we were sent from above.   She said they were really interested in taking DIC’s neonatal training and would love to have the opportunity of sending some people to the training. 

We then met with the Governor of the First Khoroo who said they had needs for clean water, however after a tour of his Khoroo, we found them to be well supplied with either wells or dump stations.  Even though we would love to provide a well for them, we felt we should continue looking for a greater need.  The Governor of the Second Khoroo was preoccupied, so we left, hoping we would find someone else to talk to.  The Governor of the Third Khoroo was very interested in our offer to examine his Khoroo for a place to put in a well.  He said that over 7,000 people in the Valley didn’t have clean water.  Many of the dwellers had shallow wells of about 10 feet deep with their outhouses about 30 to 40 feet away.  When we talked earlier to the doctor at the hospital, she told us that putting in a clean-water well would really help lighten their load at the hospital because many people got sick, she thought, because of the poor water quality.  Anyway, the Governor of the Third Khoroo seemed excited about having a well in his community, so he took us to a site he thought would be a good place to put one.  While Soyolmaa, Inkbold, the Governor, neighborhood children and a few cows looked on, Elder Lasson set up his laptop with a portable GPS device attached and got a GPS reading of the latitude and longitude of the proposed well.