The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that up to two-thirds of newborn deaths could be prevented when a trained birth attendant is present at birth and effective health measures are followed during the first week of life.
Over the last two years, Newmont has teamed up with Project C.U.R.E. to bring the Helping Babies Breathe program (HBB) to the rural regions of Ghana near our Akyem and Ahafo mines. Designed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and WHO, HBB trains birth attendants on how to provide basic newborn resuscitation using simple, inexpensive equipment, including bag-mask ventilation and suction devices.
Initial training sessions, held in January and July of 2015, provided 48 Ghanaian Ministry of Health midwives with step-by-step techniques and practice experience using mannequins that simulate the crying, breathing and heartbeat of a baby. Upon completion of this training, all midwives were required to pass a simulation exercise test (Objective Structured Clinical Examination, OSCE), in which HBB Master Trainers scored the student on their ability to provide the correct steps in preparing for birth, delivery and resuscitation.
As part of a refresher course held one year after the initial HBB training, the midwives were taught more advanced skills (Essential Care for Every Baby) and the top students were trained to become HBB Master Trainers. HBB aims to initiate a “training cascade” that disseminates the knowledge exponentially through new local Master Trainers who are given materials to teach their own classes.
The WHO reports that Ghana’s newborn mortality rate (NMR) is 3.8% – a figure that is believed to be even higher in rural areas like Brong-Ahafo and Akyem. The midwives who were trained by Project C.U.R.E. in those regions were provided booklets in which to log their deliveries. During a one-year period, they recorded an NMR of 0.71% from the delivery of 2,383 newborns, which is significantly lower than the national rate and an indication that HBB is effective in preventing neonatal deaths.
With continued investment to provide equipment to new students and to support local Master Trainers as they share their techniques, Newmont and Project C.U.R.E. believe that the benefit of HBB to newborns of Ghana can continue to expand at a significantly decreasing cost.