BetterBirth Program Shares Findings at Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference

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The Ariadne Labs BetterBirth Team debuted promising early results from its safe childbirth trial in India before a global public health community at the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference in Mexico City.

The conference brought together more than 1,000 policymakers, researchers, practitioners and advocates from 75 countries. The meeting marked the first opportunity for the maternal and newborn health communities to strategize actions needed to achieve the new targets outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, which were launched at the United Nations General Assembly in September.

The BetterBirth Program, led by epidemiologist Dr. Katherine Semrau, was designed by Ariadne Labs to implement the World Health Organization’s Safe Childbirth Checklist in developing countries with unacceptably high rates of maternal and neonatal mortality. The WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist comprises a set of known lifesaving childbirth practices in four stages: upon admission, just prior to delivery, within one hour of birth and before discharge. The program is being tested in a randomized control trial in Uttar Pradesh, India. Using peer coaching and data feedback at the primary care level, BetterBirth has resulted in a significant increase in the number of lifesaving practices adopted by health facilities in the trial.

At the conference, the Better Birth Team shared preliminary findings on the effectiveness of peer coaching to improve essential supply availability and on the use of multimedia to support uptake of the program. The coaching presentation by BetterBirth Program manager Grace Galvin, MPH demonstrated how peer-to-peer coaching motivates birthing staff and encourages problem solving that ensures essential supplies are onhand during childbirth delivery. Increasing the availability and accessibility to supplies removes significant barriers to safe childbirth practices.

The multimedia presentation by Rajiv Saurastri, a member of the BetterBirth Team from Population Services International, showcased three culturally appropriate videos made on site in India to launch the program. The videos are a novel approach to cultivating support and adoption of the program, from the national to the local levels. All three videos are available for public viewing and sharing.

Both presentations highlighted the program’s unique emphasis on devising practical strategies and solutions that improve outcomes at the front lines of care with the birth attendants, mother and babies around the world.

“We’re very excited to be bringing the BetterBirth Program to the global health community this week,” said Semrau. “We believe this approach can make a difference in the quality of care women and their neonates receive. As we continue to learn through our trial, we look forward to spreading the BetterBirth tools to improve care for more mothers and babies.”

Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, BetterBirth is a successful collaboration between the public and non-profit sectors, including the Government of India and Uttar Pradesh and development NGO Population Services International.

“Investing in the health and well-being of women and children is one of the smartest things countries can do. It enables them to take advantage of economic opportunities and achieve long-lasting benefits for their families, communities and nations,” said Melinda Gates, one of the keynote opening speakers of the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference. “Extraordinary progress is possible. By working together and integrating our efforts, we can collectively achieve greater impact, enabling more women and children to survive and thrive.”