Johnson & Johnson Supports a Neonatal Resuscitation Program in Northern Ethiopia

The Columbia University Earth Institute’s Millennium Cities Initiative and Millennium Villages Project to facilitate trainings for health providers in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ groundbreaking Helping Babies Breathe™ protocols

Infant mortality remains a critical concern throughout much of the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where the Millennium Cities Initiative (MCI) and the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) work. Yet medical breakthroughs, including programs designed to train health professionals in rural and impoverished areas, are making a difference.

It was with this in mind that MCI, a project of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, approached Johnson & Johnson in 2010 to pilot a train-the-trainer program for 120 medical professionals in the use of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP’s) Helping Babies Breathe™ (HBB) protocol and other infant care techniques, in Ghana’s two largest cities, Accra and Kumasi. This pilot, which also included the dissemination of health and infant care information to more than 1,500 mother-baby pairs, realized a 3.4 percent increase in neonatal survival, with 68 newborns resuscitated out of a total of 2,004 live births.

Given the success of this pilot, designed to serve as a scalable model for health care trainings proven to save mothers’ and infants’ lives across sub-Saharan Africa, Johnson & Johnson has committed to funding a similar program in the Millennium City of Mekelle, Ethiopia, and the nearby MVP Koraro cluster, both in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region, where the infant mortality rate is dangerously high. Johnson & Johnson will support refresher trainings for health care providers and skilled birth attendants in the HBB protocols, building on a UNICEF-sponsored training conducted two years ago. Research conducted by MCI public health specialist, Beldina Opiyo-Omolo, together with Drs. Sagori Mukhopadhyay and Christianna Russ of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, has demonstrated the critical importance of repeated trainings for health care providers. The program will feature two workshops for 104 urban health staff and birth attendants in Mekelle, and two refresher workshops for 100 people in Hawzien, near the Koraro villages cluster. Johnson & Johnson’s donation will also cover the costs of a neonatal mortality baseline survey in Mekelle, as well as monitoring and evaluation of the impact of the neonatal resuscitation trainings in Mekelle and Koraro.

The partners in this program, including MCI, the MVP, Johnson & Johnson and the AAP, believe that the neonatal resuscitation training model carried out in two large Ghanaian cities can be equally effective in saving newborn lives in more remote settings. This collaboration reinforces our commitment to working together to address the challenges faced by mothers and infants across sub-Saharan Africa and to helping the Millennium Cities and Millennium Villages further their progress toward the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

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