Globally, we know that while neonatal mortality has improved over the last decade, 15,000 babies still die each day (UN, 2010). The Lancet’s Newborn series, in 2014, inspired a global crusade to reduce neonatal mortality, among other child survival initiatives. Most regions of the world have seen a 50% reduction in this neonatal mortality rate. However children in some areas of our world are dying at much higher rates, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and Oceania.
Half of all newborn deaths occur around the time of birth, or within the first 24 hours of life. One essential intervention that improves neonatal survival is assuring every birth has a skilled provider, competent in neonatal resuscitation, at all places where a mother chooses to birth (Joharifard, et al., 2012).
There has become zero tolerance for births unattended by skilled birth attendants. Simple life-saving skill development is readily available and financial limitations should not preclude effective neonatal resuscitation. Life-saving skills are simple, inexpensive interventions in the first few minutes of a baby’s life. A care provider must assure that a baby breathes, remains warm and is monitored in the early neonatal period. Vulnerable newborns who receive early care with drying, and providing respiratory support along with keeping skin to skin contact with a mother or surrogate have improved survival. Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) is one program that has created a successful, cost-effective global outreach proven to reduce neonatal mortality and morbidity.
In Tanzania, 8 regional hospitals were chosen for HBB rollout, after the training of 40 Master Trainers linked to the eight facilities. Data analysis of more than 86,000 births, documented a reduction in early neonatal mortality (ENM) by 47% and reduction of stillbirth rates by twenty four percent. To understand the significance of this data, the numbers are reviewed, with 107/7,969 deaths pre-HBB implementation compared to 552/77,369 deaths post-HBB implementation. This represents a significant reduction in ENM from 13.4 to 7.1 per 1000 live born deliveries (Msemo et al., 2013). [Read More…]