Reducing Infant Mortality by Helping Babies Breathe

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are objectives set by the global community to address the world’s most important challenges, including ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age, and significantly reducing newborn mortality.

Newmont is contributing to the achievement of SDG-3 (to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing) through its long-standing partnership with Project C.U.R.E., a humanitarian relief organization that was founded more than three decades ago to help bridge health resource gaps in the developing world. While the partnership goes back to 2005, three years ago Newmont engaged Project C.U.R.E. to bring the Helping Babies Breathe program (HBB) to rural regions of Ghana near our Akyem and Ahafo mines.

The HBB program was designed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization (WHO) to prevent newborn deaths by teaching neonatal resuscitation skills to midwives in low-resource regions.

Training involves hands-on instruction and practice of resuscitation techniques using “NeoNatalie” mannequins. At the end of training, all midwives take a written test and perform a simulation exercise in which HBB Master Trainers score students on their ability to provide the correct steps in preparing for birth, delivery and resuscitation.

The HBB program is designed to maintain skills and build local capacity. Annual refresher courses prevent skills loss and provide training on more advanced techniques. Top students are trained to become HBB Master Trainers, who then teach their own classes, cascading the knowledge to more midwives.

In late 2017, Global Health Action reported on a study of the HBB program at the communities near Ahafo and Akyem. Of the 48 students who attended the initial training, 32 recorded data from deliveries during the year following completion of the program. Out of the nearly 2,400 newborns they delivered, they recorded a newborn mortality rate of 0.71 percent, significantly lower than the estimated national rate of 1.7 percent – a figure that is believed to be even higher in rural areas like those near Ahafo and Akyem. In 2019, we will explore monitoring and evaluation processes so that we can track the program’s outcomes over time.

We are working with Project C.U.R.E. to develop an outcome-based objective that addresses the SDG-3 sub-goal to reduce maternal and infant mortality. Data collection against the objective will begin in 2019 with reporting to incrementally increase over the next couple of years.

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