Breath of Life: Neonatal Health
Program Overview


East Meets West's Breath of Life (BOL) program develops customized, clinical solutions to significantly reduce neonatal mortality and morbidity in developing countries.

The Background: A Look at Neonatal Statistics

The statistics presented below reveal the bleak reality of neonatal survival rates, particularly in the developing world:

  • 99% of all newborn deaths occur in the developing world.
  • Every year four million newborns die world wide, most from easily treatable diseases.
  • 38% of child deaths occur in the first four weeks of life.
  • Close to 50% of all newborn deaths occur within 24 hours of delivery and up to 75% in the first week postpartum.
  • More than 50% of newborn deaths occur at home.
  • More than 7 million infants die each year between birth and two months.
  • The “two-thirds” rule:
    - Almost two-thirds of infant deaths occur in the first month of life.
    - Among those who die in the first month, about two-thirds die in the first week of life.
    - Among those who die in the first week, two thirds die in the first 24 hours of life

Yet despite these sobering statistics,  in virtually every country in the world newborn care is the branch of medicine with the least investment, research and innovation. Attempts to provide solutions often fail, because the interventions are not appropriate to the local conditions where they are implemented.

EMW's Solution: The Breath of Life program

East Meets West's Breath of Life program provides custom-designed, low-cost equipment to hospitals, and targeted training to medical personnel, to save the lives of infants suffering from common newborn pathologies. To ensure sustainability, BOL works to strengthen linkages with local health authorities to involve them in integrating these technologies into the larger health system.

BOL's equipment is designed and manufactured by EMW's partner in Vietnam, MTTS (Medical Technology Transfer Service). MTTS provides a complete package of appropriate technologies for newborn intensive care units, of which the main device is a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. CPAP treats respiratory distress, pneumonia, asphyxia and other common respiratory pathologies.

A standard technology in the developed world, CPAP scarcely existed in Vietnam when EMW piloted it at the National Hospital of Pediatrics (NHP) in Hanoi in 2003. A year later, 24-hour infant mortality rates had dropped from 30% to 10% at the NHP as a result of the intervention. As of 2009, BOL had equipped over 95% of Vietnam’s provinces with CPAP machines.

In addition to the CPAP, Breath of Life makes available an array of complementary equipment including:

  • LED phototherapy machine to treat neonatal jaundice
  • Infant resuscitation station
  • Portable “bilibed” to provide both phototherapy treatment and heat
  • Pulse oximeters to measure oxygen levels in the blood
  • Hand sanitizers 

Find out more about the equipment provided by BOL.

When EMW provides a hospital in the developing world with the full range of Breath of Life equipment, this complex of innovative technologies constitutes a cost-effective, durable, low-maintenance NICU, or Neonatal Intensive CareUnit to effectively treat premature infants and other newborns with life-threatening health conditions.

In Vietnam, BOL’s simple, clinical interventions have already saved thousands of infants’ lives. Read more about the concrete solutions provided by the Breath of Life program.

The program is now serving as an adaptable model for neonatal health programs in the countries of Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Myanmar, India and Timor Leste, where the program is currently being implemented.

    For more information

    Luciano Moccia
    Breath of Life
    International Coordinator

    1-800-561-3378 or 510-763-7045

     SHARE EMW:  


    Breath of Life’s successful strategies for treating preterm infants are highlighted in the recent WHO publication, Born Too Soon.
    Read about Breath of Life here.

    Read the full report here.

    Your $100 gift provides lifesaving treatment for  one infant through BOL. 


    “With BOL’s support, the mortality rate among infants has gone from 25% to only 5%.” 
    Read more about local BOL partner, pediatrician Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Lan.


    Design that Matters is a partner for the BOL program

    View more partners

    East Meets West

    1611 Telegraph Ave., Suite 1420, Oakland, CA 94612
    Tel: 1-800.561.3378  |  Tel: 510-763-7045  |  Fax: 510-763-6545

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