A program launched by the American Academy of Pediatrics in Tanzania called "Helping Babies Breathe" showed a 47% decrease in newborn deaths occurring in the first 24 hours of life during the program's initial implementation in 2009. Since then, Tanzania has become the first of 77 countries using the Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) program on a national scale, according to an independent evaluation to be published in the May 2017 issue of Pediatrics.
The study, "Implementation of 'Helping Babies Breathe': A Three-Year Experience in Tanzania," (published online April 17) found the program to be successful in equipping more than 13,000 health care providers with life-saving newborn resuscitation skills and equipment. But the authors conclude that assessing the program's impact on neonatal mortality will require further effort because of the difficulty in measuring impact using existing data systems.
Additional training periods were also recommended to help workers retain their skills in using the recommended interventions. Neonatal mortality accounts for almost half of all deaths among children under the age of 5, and nearly all of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
After its initial launch at eight locations in 2009, the Tanzania program was rolled out in 15 of the country's 25 mainland regions from May 2013 through December 2014.