Breath of Life
The Program Outside Vietnam
Since 2008, EMW has been implementing Breath of Life in Laos PDR and the Kingdom of Cambodia (with the support of the Lemelson Foundation) and Timor Leste (supported by the Trento Friends of Neonatology). Following the successful establishment of BOL in those countries, EMW is now bringing the same model of clinical neonatal solutions to three other countries: India, the Philippines, and Myanmar.
To successfully lower infant mortality and morbidity rates in new regions, BOL’s signature adaptability is its greatest asset, although the initial core strategy remains the same. As it does in Vietnam, BOL distributes its neonatal technologies and trains medical personnel, starting at the national level and gradually branching out to regional and lower level facilities.
The program’s initial goal in a new country is to fully equip the main national level hospitals and provide training to their staff. In Vientiane (Laos PDR), Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and Dili (Timor Leste), these hospitals act as the main program partner and are supporting BOL in expanding to all the country's provinces and to lower level hospitals.
In Laos, Cambodia and Timor Leste, EMW has adapted its approach to respond to local needs and constraints and develop technologies appropriate for the medical conditions in those countries. The case of Laos PDR provides an illustration.
Case Study: BOL in Laos
Any strategy to lower neonatal mortality and morbidity in Laos must take into account at least two crucial factors that differentiate Laos from its neighbor Vietnam, and contribute to a neonatal mortality rate that is twice as high. First, the country’s basic medical infrastructure is less developed and widespread. Second, even when a hospital is available, women in Laos do not traditionally go to a medical facility to give birth. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that 80% of Laotian babies are born at home.
Given this set of facts, BOL in Laos will complement its existing model of technology distribution and training with two additional strategies: education and stabilization.
The first approach, education, focuses on convincing more women to give birth at or near a hospital, and on the benefits of bringing a sick baby to a well-equipped medical facility. When community educators teach women about the signs of post-partum distress and the availability of lifesaving equipment, it strengthens linkages between the community and health facilities and increases the likelihood that those women will access them.
The second approach, stabilization, focuses on simple technologies that a traditional birth attendant can use to stabilize a sick newborn until it can be brought to a hospital. The birth attendant is trained to operate a small bassinette with built-in LED lights that provide warmth and temporary treatment for jaundice. This portable “bilibed” keeps the infant’s body temperature stable, prevents infection and provides a safe container for transport to the nearest BOL-equipped hospital.
For more information
Breath of Life
1-800-561-3378 or 510-763-7045