The Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Foundation improves the quality of life for Thai infants
by offering infant incubator units for premature babies in 20 rural hospitals in Thailand.
Preterm deaths among babies in Asean are as high as 72%, and each year, there are around 100,000 premature babies born in Thailand.
While medical advancement has helped mothers monitor their pregnancies better and reduced the rate of premature births, the rate of preterm deaths among babies is still high, especially in rural hospitals where there are not enough medical staff and equipment. Without the right equipment, it is hard for preterm babies to survive.
Kaeng Krachan Hospital in Phetchaburi province is a 30-bed hospital with four full-time doctors who have to take care of the area’s 30,000 people. The hospital has helped many preterm babies who were born prematurely, using great efforts from the doctors and nurses.
Noppasit Chotsatitpokin, Deputy Director of Kaeng Krachan Hospital, said that when a baby is born prematurely, there are many risks for complications and death because its body cannot function fully. The hospital has to send premature babies to Phra Chomklao Hospital, which is better equipped and has in-house pediatricians.
“To send premature babies to the main hospital, our hospital must prepare bean bags to maintain the temperature at 36.5 degrees Celsius. We heat the bean bags in a microwave for a minute and place them under the baby’s mattress, and place a blanket at the top. Then, we swaddle the baby and place it on this mattress, before sending it to the hospital along with two nurses. Phra Chomklao Hospital is about 50km away and the journey takes about 45 minutes.”
The problem with using bean bags to keep the baby warm is that the heat is not reliable and cannot be controlled. Sometimes, the bags may be too hot and burn the baby’s skin. On each journey, the nurses must hold the bassinet to prevent it from sliding during the car ride, since the bassinet does not come with a lock and can slip, causing injury to both the baby and the nurses.
He said that baby incubator units are crucial to saving preterm babies, especially in case the main hospital does not have room for the baby and it needs to be sent to another province. However, due to limited budgets, the hospital must choose other equipment which may be more necessary.
“We recognise the importance of having baby incubator units, but other items are also necessary and must be prioritised. Modern technology has allowed mothers to monitor their pregnancy better, but since there are many young mothers in this area, there are still premature births.”
The Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Foundation sees the importance of helping premature babies, and without its support, Kaeng Krachan Hospital would not have these mobile baby incubator units to save babies’ lives. “The incubator units that the Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Foundation has given us are modern incubators with locks and wheels. When they are placed in the van, the locks are in place to prevent the baby from sliding during the ride. The temperature is also controllable, and the nurses who accompany the baby can better monitor the baby’s breathing and movement.”
Having worked in the area for more than two decades, Noppasit has seen the hardship of the people in this area, but they have always made it through any obstacle thanks to Thai people’s help, from food and clothes to money to fix their homes. The power of Thai people has helped the locals of Kaeng Krachan always. “I personally believe in the power of Thai people, as it has given happiness to Thai people all these years, including this time.”