Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge

Last week, Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham-Clinton, joined the leadership team of Saving Lives at Birth for their landmark announcement–a grant program aimed at improving maternal and infant safety in developing regions.  As described on the organization’s website,

“To accelerate substantial and sustainable progress against maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths at the community level, we need to harness the collective imagination and ingenuity of experts across a broad range of disciplines and expertise.”


Partner organizations in this effort include the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Grand Challenges Canada, and The World Bank.  Together, these private and governmental organizations are seeking innovative solutions to perinatal maternal and infant morbidity and mortality in rural, low-resource settings–and have issued a grand challenge:  submit your idea for an intervention that can:

  • Increase access to primary health care for women and newborns by at least 50%
  • Substantially improve the quality of care as measured by health outcomes
  • Lead to improved and sustained healthy behavior

Selected project team(s) will receive a grant that includes seed funding for the development of the project/product or funding for scaling the innovation to the point of implementation.

Three categories of innovation are sought: 

  • technology-based (devices or technologies to prevent, detect or treat maternal and newborn problems at the time of birth)
  • healthcare services demand-based (technologies/ innovations that incentivize women to seek healthcare, and knowledge of healthy behaviors that can improve birth outcomes
  • trained birth attendant based (increasing access to healthcare, training for birth attendants and methods for transporting sick moms and babies to medical facilities)

To watch the presentation of this project, go here and, please, spread the word.

Photo Courtesy of: www.savinglivesatbirth.net



Posted by: Kimmelin Hull, PA, LCCE

Maternal Mortality, New Research, Research, Research for Advocacy, Research Opportunities, Uncategorized , , , , , , ,

  1. March 17th, 2011 at 13:27 | #1

    Bravo!! Bravo!! Bravo!!
    You give me the hope that what I have been working for during the last 60 years IS going to become a reality!!
    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    But I hope this mission will include or have an impact on the United States for we have some serious problems surrounding birth here at home.
    I experienced Hospice in caring for my husband over the past 4 months. As a nurse-midwife I found myself pondering why we did not have this support and application of our scienctific knowledge that we know makes a difference for the beginning of life. For example, why are women not breastfeeding? Why do new mothers not have time off to nurture their newborns in that precious first year of life? Why is care in pregnancy focused on looking for problems instead of the social and cultural benefits of the gathering of women to share and learn together how best to care for themselves, their newborns and their families.

    The innovation of Hospice began about the same time that midwifery operated birth centers began. Why did Hospice, which provides comfort instead of cure at death, take off while birth centers, also supporting a paradigm shift to comfort rather than cure for the majority of women, who with adequate information and support, would be able to give birth without medical intervention at the beginning of life, continues to struggle just to survive? I think I know some reasons but would like to know what this august group of forward thinkers would have to say about the serious problems surrounding birth here in the United States.

  2. March 17th, 2011 at 19:04 | #2

    I curious if the “Trained birth attendants” means that doulas will be a part of overall care and if there will be funding for that. A group of doulas here in Monterey County have been working with the county hospital to try to get an in house doula program started for two years…nurses are on board as well as the docs but it’s the board wondering if it is financially to their benefit for them to do it. I sent our director the Cochrane Review and she sent it on the those in charge of L and D. If this “Saving Lives at Birth” program were to offer money to support it maybe we can be in the hospital soon. The families we serve are mostly lower income, they don’t speak English and many are alone. Even though we have a language barrier the times I have volunteered I have found that what I do matters way more than what I say. I will keep watching!

  3. avatar
    March 17th, 2011 at 19:31 | #3

    I was disappointed with this presentation. The first part of the presentation is all about how wonderful vaccines are. Then the main goals of this project are about TECHNOLOGY. At minute 33 There is some talk about saving babies and training birth workers but then at minute 35 Hilary talks aboaut a ‘resuscitation device’. What about resusitation certification and training? Neonatal Resuscitation training doesn’t take much technology. Birth doesn’t take all that much technology. Nutrition? YES! Prenatal care? Yes! Prenatal vitamins? Yes! EDUCATION? YES! Trained midwifes? Yea! But devices? Hardly ever.

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