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50,000 Happy Birthdays

From 10,000 to 50,000 Happy Birthdays

In many parts of the world, the day of birth is a day of celebration. But in many low-resource countries, the day of birth can be the most dangerous day in a baby’s and mother’s life. Every year, an estimated 300,000 mothers and 2.7 million newborns die on the day of birth. 

Most of these lives can be saved.

The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), in collaboration with the Midwives Associations of Zambia and Malawi with support from Laerdal Global Health embarked on the ambitious 10,000 Happy Birthdays Project in 2014. The goal of the project was to, by end 2016, train up to 10,000 midwives and other MNH providers in Helping Mothers Survive Bleeding After Birth (HMS BAB) and Helping Babies Breathe (HBB).

Based on the success of the 10,000 Happy Birthdays, the project will now scale up to 50,000 Happy Birthdays. Our goal countinues to be helping train, equip and empower birth attendants to provide quality care at birth to save more lives, and thereby contribute to additional 50,000 Happy Birthdays by 2020. The program will continue to be implemented by national midwifery associations and coordinated by ICM in partnership with Laerdal Global Health and others. We are currently in the process of selecting the countries to be included in the program. 27 countries have responded to the ICM's initial call for proposals. Of these, seven countries with high maternal and newborn mortality have now been selected to develop a more comprehensive proposal.

A well-trained midwife can make the difference between life and death

The Helping Babies Survive (HBS) and Helping Mothers Survive (HMS) suite of educational programs provide hands-on training to identify, prevent, and treat the leading causes of newborn and maternal death. The training programs include affordable, durable simulators to ensure continuous on-site trainings at health facilities and schools. HBS and HMS are the core educational solutions implemented in the 50,000 Happy Birthdays program.

10,000 Happy Birthdays was only the beginning

The 50,000 Happy Birthday program is an expansion of the successful 10,000 Happy Birthday Project. Over a three year period, midwifery associations in Malawi and Zambia with strong support from ICM trained and supported close to 10,000 birth attendants to save lives of mother and newborns in almost all districts and nursing schools in the two countries. The executive summary of an independent evaluation report of the project showed that:

    • Midwives feel more empowered to manage and prevent the leading causes of mortality and morbidity at birth, such as postpartum haemorrhage and birth asphyxia.
    • HBS and HMS have been successfully introduced as permanent training programs in all nursing and midwifery schools in Malawi and Zambia, ensuring sustainability.
    • The program contributed significantly to strengthening of the national midwifery associations.

The 10,000 Happy Birthday project will continue in Malawi and Zambia as part of the 50,000 Happy Birthday program, supported by Rotary and Laerdal Global Health. 


For more information, check out the 50,000 Happy Birthdays Facebook Page.