Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) has really been in the spotlight this season! In October, the HBB Global Development Alliance was awarded the 2011 Alliance Excellence Award from USAID for a partnership strategy to rollout HBB globally. In November, HBB education was highlighted in an ABC Nightline episode, and just recently, the Million Mom’s campaign aired a video about the initiative in Kenya.
Global progress continues. HBB has been introduced into 34 countries now and at least 10 of those countries have developed national rollout plans. Partners have supported the training of at least 33,000 health providers since the launch in June 2010. Preliminary data from one country in Africa shows a significant decline in newborn deaths.
Some progress more specific to Kenya…
More than 1,200 health providers have been trained so far. The Ministry of Health is leading efforts to include HBB in Kenya’s national guidelines for pediatric emergency care. Kenya is slated to be the site of an upcoming evaluation of the impact of HBB on perinatal mortality that will kick off in 2012.
We’d like to share an excerpt from a blog by Sherri Bucher, PhD, Assistant Professor of Research in the Department of Pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr Bucher works with Riley Children’s Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya, where HBB was first introduced.
Nurse Mary Wekesa cleared Baby Job’s airway by suctioning thick mucus from his mouth and nose. She dried him vigorously, cut the umbilical cord, and transferred the limp newborn to a dry blanket. As Mary worked to revive the unresponsive infant, Emily asked repeatedly if her baby was dead. Emily’s mother, who witnessed Job’s birth, sobbed inconsolably. Josephine Wanyama, a hospital technician assisting Mary, whispered, “This baby will die. It’s not breathing.”
Mary responded, “Let us try. This kid might come back.” Mary wrapped the motionless baby in the dry blanket, leaving his chest exposed. She placed a circular rubber mask over his bluish mouth and nose and squeezed a bulb-like attachment that made his chest rise and fall as air inflated his lungs. Mary instructed Josephine to use the newborn’s umbilical stump to monitor his heart rate. Josephine counted each pulse out loud. Every heart beat signaled hope.
Suddenly, the loud cries of baby Job rang through the maternity ward. His grandmother’s sobs were replaced by shouts of joy. Job began to breathe on his own thanks to the efforts of Mary and Josephine, who were able to respond because they received proper training and had all of the necessary equipment.
Emily was able to leave Bokoli Hospital carrying Baby Job in her arms, and happily began making plans and dreaming about a bright future for her new family.
A sincere thank you goes out to all those who have supported the HBB initiative, whether it be from your wallet or through your heart. Please feel free to contact us if you have any ideas to spread the word about HBB. Kenya is a very large country and continued support will be needed to save more newborn lives.