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50,000 Happy Birthdays

Empowering midwives to help mothers and babies survive

We believe the day of birth is a day of celebration. But this is not always the case. In many low-resource settings, it is the most dangerous day, leaving an estimated 300,000 mothers and 2.7 million newborns dead, every year. Most of these lives can be saved.


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

The goal of the 50,000 Happy Birthday programme is to contribute to quality maternal and newborn care by strengthening midwives' competencies in saving lives at birth in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania — following on from the 10, 000 Happy Birthdays in Malawi and Zambia. This will be achieved by using the simulation-based Helping Mothers Survive and Helping Babies Survive programmes to train, equip and empower midwives to save more lives at birth, and also contribute to reducing morbidity and ensuring a better birth experience.

From 10,000 to 50,000 Happy Birthdays

50,000 Happy Birthdays is a programme led by the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and the national midwives associations. It's supported by Laerdal Global Health, together with Jhpiego, American Academy of Pediatrics, and other stakeholders. The programme builds on the success of the 10,000 Happy Birthday project in Malawi and Zambia which from 2014 to 2016 increased the professional capacity of 10,000 birth attendants to save lives at birth.


"A happy birthday is a live and healthy mother, a live and healthy baby, a happy and excited woman with a positive experience, and a very happy family"

Sally Pairman, CEO of ICM


50,000 Happy Birthdays will expand on the previous achievements by:

  • Increasing emphasis on low-dose high-frequency pedagogy
  • Introducing the programme in pre-service education
  • Strengthening the capacity of midwives associations to manage large scale programmes
  • Increasing partnerships with national and global partners
  • Ensuring a robust monitoring and evaluation of the program


Helping Mothers Survive (HMS) is a suite of programmes developed by Jhpiego, in line with the latest WHO guidelines, and endorsed by global professional organizations such as ICM, FIGO, AAP, ICN, and UNFPA. HMS provides health workers with skills in prevention, detection and management of the leading causes of maternal deaths including bleeding after birth/postpartum hemorrhage and pre-eclampsia & eclampsia.

Helping Babies Survive (HBS) is a suite of programs developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and based on the latest WHO guidelines. These training programmes address the main causes of neonatal mortality and morbidity and includes; Helping Babies Breathe, Essential Care for Every Baby and Essential Care for Small Babies. A body of large-scale, peer-reviewed studies have shown that HBS and HMS simulation-based training programs, when well implemented, reduce newborn and maternal mortality at birth.


For more information visit the 50,000 Happy Birthdays website:

50,000 Happy Birthdays