Laerdal and UNICEF will train 10, 000 health workers to support mothers and newborns in Africa

Addis Ababa

17 November 2020
Sr. kalkidan who helps Rehima after delivery
UNICEF Ethiopia/2020/Tewodros Tadesse
Sr. kalkidan who helps Rehima during her labor, is showing Rehima how to breastfeed the new baby girl for the first time at woreda 03 health center.

UNICEF and Laerdal Global Health have entered into a five-year global partnership to improve maternal and newborn health care in some of the communities with the highest mortality rates in Eastern and Southern Africa. 

Whilst the world has seen very promising progress in maternal and neonatal health over the last decades, the maternal and newborn mortality rates in Eastern and Southern Africa region remain alarming.

In 2017, around 70,000 women in the region died due to complications during pregnancy and birth. In 2019, around 443,000 newborns died in the first 28 days after birth. New methods for training and follow-up with mothers and their newborns will contribute to additional reduction.

Together with governments, UNICEF and Laerdal Global Health will provide training of 10,000 health workers in care around safe pregnancy and birth by 2025. This first-of-its-kind partnership between UNICEF and Laerdal Global Health will implement the Helping Mothers Survive and Helping Babies Survive training programmes. These innovative programmes are designed to reduce maternal and newborn mortality in low-resource settings.

The trainings, based on the simulation methodology, will equip health professionals with the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to succeed. To ensure long-term and sustainable capacity building, the programs also include a refresher component, so that health workers can do frequent training sessions with using the training models in their place of work. 

UNICEF will contribute with lifesaving equipment for newborns and training of health workers, while Laerdal Global Health will contribute with educational materials and simulators. This support is possible thanks to Laerdal's ‘Buy One Gift One’ scheme for customers in high-income countries.

“In 2012, Laerdal Medical established a ‘Buy One, Gift One’ programme where birth simulators sold in high-income countries support training programmes in low-resource settings. We look forward to our cooperation with UNICEF where we will use a combination of on-site and remote learning solutions to contribute to scaling-up more efficient training modules that can save lives”, said Tore Laerdal, Chairman for Laerdal.  

UNICEF’s Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa, UNICEF offices in countries where the programe is implemented, UNICEF Norway, and Laerdal Global Health will jointly coordinate the project. The programme will start in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Kenya and later expand to include other countries in the region.

“Investing in the health of women and children is a smart investment,” said Mohamed M. Malick Fall, Regional Director for UNICEF in Eastern and Southern Africa.

“Indeed, investing in the health of the poorest children and communities saves nearly twice as many lives as equivalent investments. Our new partnership with Laerdal Global Health will bring investment, research and innovation to help improve the delivery of quality health services. Additionally, the partnership will seek new solutions to avert preventative maternal and newborn deaths.”

Laerdal Global Health is the non-profit arm of the Norwegian company Laerdal Medical, a market leader in providing innovative training, educational and therapy solutions for emergency medical care and patient safety.

Media contacts

Victor Chinyama
Chief of Communication, Advocacy and Partnerships
UNICEF Ethiopia
Wossen Mulatu
Communication Officer
UNICEF Ethiopia
Tel: +251 115 184028


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