Essential Newborn Care

Name of Project: Training frontline healthcare workers in essential newborn care- including “Helping Babies Breathe”



Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa with over 90 million people.  The median age is 18 and almost 50% of the population is below 15 years of age.  Ethiopia has one of the highest neonatal mortality rates in the world at 31 deaths per 1000 live births – neonatal morality defined as deaths within the first month of life.  (For comparison, the neonatal mortality rate in the US stands at 4 deaths per 1000 live births.)  Ethiopia’s neonatal deaths account for nearly 42% of all deaths in children less than 5, and birth asphyxia is a leading cause of neonatal deaths.

Traditionally in Ethiopia, mothers labor and deliver their babies at home. According to WHO’s 2012 report, only 10% of deliveries were attended by a healthcare worker. In order to reduce the high rates of maternal and neonatal mortality, the Ethiopian government is encouraging women to deliver their babies at healthcare facilities.  Intensive outreach campaigns have created an increase in demand at these facilities.  Healthcare workers need to be adequately trained to address the emergency interventions that might arise during delivery.  The Ethiopian Pediatrics Society has embraced “Helping Babies Breathe”, an innovative neonatal resuscitation program, as part of its national strategy.

Helping Babies Breathe is listed by the United Nations as a top breakthrough innovation that can save women and children now.

Community Involvement: The Zonal Health Department has been active in identifying the health workers from health centers throughout the zone to participate in the training.


  • Build capacity of health professionals to proficiently perform neonatal resuscitation in low resource settings.
  • Ensure that babies are born with a skilled birth attendant present.


  • The project initiated in 2015 when WEEMA conducted three rounds of two-day training for health workers from three woredas in Kembata Tembaro Zone to build their skills for neonatal resuscitation and newborn care. (Training held at Lemma International Hotel in Hosanna, Ethiopia.)


  • 36 health workers trained and voiced appreciation