WHI’s Helping Babies Breathe Program will bring a proven newborn practice to Sierra Leone

Carrie Jo Cain, World Hope International Sierra Leone Health program director, has been selected as this year’s the winner of the prestigious Children’s Prize. Now in its third year, the Children’s Prize is an annual, global competition seeking to fund the best and most effective child survival project proposing to save the greatest number of children’s lives. The $250,000 award will be used to implement Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) program to save an estimated 6,336 lives at birth in Sierra Leone.

As a US-trained neonatal, pediatric, and emergency room registered nurse who grew up in Sierra Leone, Carrie Jo is uniquely poised to lead the project and implement the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) training curriculum in rural, underserved villages in Sierra Leone. Through the program, she will teach over 2,000 Maternal Child Health aides (MCH aides) and Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) essential skills in newborn resuscitation.

“On behalf of the Judging Committee and the Prize administrators, we congratulate Carrie Jo and World Hope International on their winning proposal,” said Aleyda K. Mejia, director of the Children’s Prize. “Selected out of nearly 400 applicants this year, the Helping Babies Breathe initiative embodies important characteristics that we look for in a Children’s Prize winner. The project is ready to be executed and save lives; it is science-based and data-driven; and it will take work that has been proven successful already to the next level by going directly to where a simple lifesaving intervention is most needed. We look forward to sharing the novelty involved in this project and highlighting the corresponding impact along the way.”

While the evidence-based educational program has already been implemented in 77 countries over the past four years, WHI’s plan is unique. The HBB curriculum was designed for use in health facilities, and there is a strong need to expand the capacity to include home births, therefore improving survival conditions where most births occur. Carrie Jo, who is fluent in the local dialect, Krio, will train MCH aides and TBAs to save newborns who are not only delivered at health facilities, but also at home or in community settings.

Carrie Jo and WHI’s winning project will be the first to systematically evaluate HBB in Sierra Leone and to study whether the curriculum is effective in changing the practices of birth attendants and birth outcomes both at and away from facilities. This will help determine whether HBB will be effective in its current form, or if it will need significant adaptation to work in this context.

“Too many babies are dying needlessly because their mothers don’t have caregivers with the training and basic equipment to perform simple lifesaving measures at birth. With the support of Children’s Prize, World Hope International and I will provide training on sustainable interventions that can be implemented by local people, which are critical to reducing the country’s very high rate of child mortality,” said Carrie Jo. “Thank you to the Children’s Prize for allowing us to draw attention to this very important cause, and to the people of Sierra Leone for your determination to build something better.”

The next Children’s Prize will open globally April 2016.

The Children’s Prize is a global contest that invests in proven child survival work. As a novel philanthropic approach, we insist on a direct link to lives saved for all children under five years of age. The initiative empowers and unites the drive of human competition with the hyper-connectivity of the information age. The Children’s Prize thinks like an engineer, placing its strongest emphasis on efficiency and scientific accuracy. Winners enter into a collaborative relationship with the Children’s Prize to execute their vision. Founded in 2013 by Dr. Ted Caplow, the team has grown, and the portfolio of projects includes investments in Pakistan, Nepal, Kenya, Uganda, Angola and Sierra Leone. For more information, please visit www.childrensprize.org.