Save the Children Announces Helping Babies Breathe Partnership

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WESTPORT, Conn. (Sept. 28, 2011) — Save the Children today announced its collaboration with Johnson & Johnson and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in a new partnership to implement Helping Babies Breathe (HBB), an initiative to help save the lives of the hundreds of thousands of newborns who die from birth asphyxia each year in the developing world.

"Birth asphyxia accounts for more than 26 percent of all newborn deaths in developing countries," said Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children. "This is a preventable tragedy. Newborn resuscitation is a cost-effective, proven solution that can save thousands of lives. With this support from Johnson & Johnson, we will be able to train health workers in some of the poorest, most remote communities in Africa to help their babies survive and thrive."

Birth asphyxia, the inability of a baby to breathe in the moments following a live birth, is a leading cause of infant mortality. Those who survive are at higher risk of developmental challenges. This five-year partnership, which builds upon and complements USAID investments in addressing birth asphyxia, will allow HBB to expand into Malawi and Uganda where neonatal mortality rates contribute disproportionately to the overall child mortality rate. In Malawi the neonatal mortality rate is 33 per 1,000 live births. In Uganda, the rate is 29 babies per 1,000 live births.

The announcement of the Helping Babies Breathe partnership was made today at a panel hosted by Women, Inspiration and Enterprise about Solutions for Africa. Sharon D’Agostino, Vice President of Worldwide Contributions and Community Relations at Johnson & Johnson said: "Childbirth is an occasion for celebration for so many families, but a baby’s first breath cannot be taken for granted. Caring for the health of mothers and children has been a pillar of our giving since the company was founded 125 years ago. Our partners have been critical to this work, helping us to reach the mothers and babies who need it most so that they can look forward to safe and happy childbirth."

"We have a long history of addressing birth asphyxia with our resuscitation training program in partnership with Johnson & Johnson. An example of our success is the 53 percent decline in infant mortality in hospitals in China that implemented newborn resuscitation training," said AAP Executive Director Errol Alden, MD, FAAP. "Save the Children has been a strong supporter of Helping Babies Breathe. This new partnership will help spread and leverage our collective learnings to save more newborn lives."

The AAP led the development of Helping Babies Breathe (HBB), which is focused on training health workers in neonatal resuscitation in low resource settings where cost-effective techniques like rubbing the baby dry, keeping the baby warm and using a simple ventilation device to stimulate breathing can prevent a leading cause of neonatal death. In 2010, a Global Development Alliance (GDA) was launched by USAID with the objective of rolling out HBB globally. Each member of the GDA partnership, including Save the Children, plays a unique and complementary role that leverages their resources and expertise to scale-up improved newborn resuscitation practices in the developing world. The Helping Babies Breathe GDA is a partnership led by USAID and the American Academy of Pediatrics, The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and Saving Newborn Lives/Save the Children. The curriculum was developed with input from the World Health Organization (WHO). All this is made possible by an unrestricted educational grant from the Laerdal Foundation for Acute Medicine, and support from Latter-day Saint Charities.

Globally, 41 percent of child deaths occur in the first month of life, most of these in low resource countries. The first week of life poses the highest risk of deaths with half occurring within the first 24 hours of life. Recent worldwide data show that each year approximately 10 million babies do not breathe immediately at birth, of which about 6 million require basic neonatal resuscitation.

This collaboration was developed in response to high neonatal mortality rates in Malawi and Uganda, and the call from the United Nations Secretary General to partner and make progress toward the Millennium Development Goals ahead of the target date in 2015.

About Johnson & Johnson

Caring for the world, one person at a time…inspires and unites the people of Johnson & Johnson. We embrace research and science — bringing innovative ideas, products and services to advance the health and well-being of people. Our 116,000 employees at more than 250 Johnson & Johnson companies work with partners in health care to touch the lives of over a billion people every day, throughout the world.

For more information, visit www.jnj.com.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.

Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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