Achieving Country-Wide Scale for Helping Babies Breathe and Helping Babies Survive Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) was piloted in 2009 as a program targeted to reduce neonatal mortality (NM). The program has morphed into a suite of programs termed Helping Babies Survive that includes Essential Care for Every Baby. Since 2010, the HBB and Helping Babies Survive training programs have been taught to >850 000 providers in 80 countries. Initial HBB training is associated with a significant improvement in knowledge and skills. However, at refresher training, there is a knowledge-skill gap evident, with a falloff in skills. Accumulating evidence supports the role for frequent refresher resuscitation training in facilitating skills retention. Beyond skill acquisition, HBB has been associated with a significant reduction in early NM (<24 hours) and fresh stillbirth rates. To evaluate the large-scale impact of the growth of skilled birth attendants, we analyzed NM rates in sub-Saharan Africa (n = 11) and Nepal (as areas of growing HBB implementation). All have revealed a consistent reduction in NM at 28 days between 2009 and 2018; a mean reduction of 5.34%. The number of skilled birth attendants, an indirect measure of HBB sustained rollout, reveals significant correlation with NM, fresh stillbirth, and perinatal mortality rates, highlighting HBB’s success and the need for continued efforts to train frontline providers. A novel live newborn resuscitation trainer as well as a novel app (HBB Prompt) have been developed, increasing knowledge and skills while providing simulation-based repeated practice. Ongoing challenges in sustaining resources (financial and other) for newborn programming emphasize the need for innovative implementation strategies and training tools.


  • Perlman, Jeffrey M
  • Velaphi, Sithembiso
  • Massawe, Augustine
  • Clarke, Robert
  • Merali, Hasan
  • Ersdal, Hege

publication date

  • October 1, 2020