Laerdal Global Health is Born
The story behind the One Million Lives goal starts in 2010, when Laerdal established the not-for-profit sister company, Laerdal Global Health (LGH), and became a dedicated member of the Helping Babies Breathe Global Development Alliance established by USAID.
Some years before, in 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) invited Laerdal to collaborate on developing a much-simplified and culturally-adapted course in newborn resuscitation to meet the needs in low-resource settings. Laerdal responded by providing educational design for the course that was to become widely known as Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) and the low-cost simulator, NeoNatalie, to make the training more engaging and effective. Lifesaving equipment, the Penguin Suction and the Upright Resuscitator, also became available as part of the program. When presented in 2008, the project elicited much enthusiasm. Testing in India, Kenya and Tanzania yielded ground-breaking knowledge: the HBB program was born.
Since then, large-scale studies that evaluated HBB programs in Tanzania and Nepal showed a 47% reduction in early 24-hour neonatal mortality and a 24% reduction in fresh stillbirths. This spurred further motivation to bring these innovations to scale.
Helping Babies and Mothers Survive
The tremendous interest that HBB raised triggered the obvious question: if hundreds of thousands of birth attendants could be reached by this course, would this be opportunity to also train them to prevent the number one killer of mothers, uncontrolled bleeding after birth?
Laerdal teamed up with Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, the leading NGO for maternal care. This inspired the development of the birthing simulator MamaNatalie as well as the Helping Mothers Survive (HMS) program.
With inclusion of the HMS program, the HBB alliance developed into the Survive & Thrive public-private partnership, including professional associations, the private sector, NGOs and others. Although the formal partnership ended in 2017, its educational programs are reaching more than 100,000 new birth attendants every year by being embedded in national programs and through initiatives such as 50,000 Happy Birthdays.
Together with its partners, LGH has developed 25 products and programs over the company’s first ten years. These products are provided on a not-for-profit basis to the countries with the highest maternal and newborn mortality, and have reached more than 750,000 birth attendants.