Close this search box.

Safer Births awarded US$4.5 million in funding from World Bank for scale up

Newborn baby Safer Births

WASHINGTON, DC – The World Bank’s Global Financing Facility (GFF) announced five awardees under the Innovation-to-Scale initiative to scale up proven innovations for the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality around and just after birth. The award follows a call for proposals which received 320 proposals from 26 eligible countries. Each awardee will receive between US$4 million and US$5 million.

Newborn baby Safer Births

These awards—part of the GFF’s partnership with Laerdal Global Health, a Norwegian not-for-profit company dedicated to helping save the lives of newborns and mothers—respond to increasing demand from low- and lower-middle-income countries to expand and sustain innovations that support their health and nutrition priorities by tackling critical bottlenecks to improved outcomes at scale.

“Evidence-based innovative solutions can play an important role in improving the health and wellbeing of women, children, and adolescents in many GFF-supported countries,” said Muhammad Pate, Director of the GFF. “We are excited to support the work of organizations that are helping save lives in some of the most difficult contexts around the world.”

The winners were chosen through a rigorous review process to ensure the innovations are backed up by evidence that they reduce maternal and newborn mortality; have an established proof-of-concept, including field pilot demonstration; and can be effectively delivered in low-resource conditions to achieve quality and improved outcomes at scale. The proposal review committee was chaired by the GFF Secretariat, and also included representatives from the GFF Investors Group private sector constituency, the GFF Trust Fund Committee, Laerdal Global Health, the government of Norway, and UNICEF. UNICEF, which provides a unique value-add through its innovation expertise and strong operational presence in GFF-supported countries, will support the implementation of the grant program.

“Innovation is all about impact, and impact takes collaboration to accelerate scale-up,” said Tore Laerdal, Executive Chairman of Laerdal Global Health. “We have been therefore delighted to partner with GFF on this initiative and hope the five winning projects will produce strong cases of impact and pave the way for further scale-up through investment cases in multiple GFF countries.

The awardees and their innovations are:

Haydom Lutheran Hospital (Tanzania) will scale up its Safer Births Bundle—which includes low-dose high-frequency training programs, associated state-of-the-art simulators, and tools to assist in decision making and delivery of care at birth, including fetal and newborn heart rate monitoring and bag-and-mask ventilation—to help mothers and babies survive childbirth. The scale up will allow this package to be expanded to 30 hospitals in six regions of Tanzania, accounting for one-third of national maternal and neonatal mortality.

Addis Ababa Universities, Mekelle University, Hawassa University, Emory University, and Harvard University (Ethiopia) will scale up innovative strategies to reduce perinatal and early neonatal mortality, building on experience in scaling up effective Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) coverage from 5 percent to up to 80 percent within a three-year timeframe in four  regions of Ethiopia. The full “Saving Little Lives at Birth” package also includes resuscitation of small babies with asphyxia, CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) for respiratory distress, sepsis management, and feeding management. It will now be scaled up tenfold to a population coverage of 37 million in over 180 woredas in the same four regions, with the aim of reducing neonatal mortality by 35 percent.

Gradian Health Systems (Tanzania, Sierra Leone) will build upon and further institutionalize anesthesia simulation laboratories and mentorship programs for users of Gradian Health’s Universal Anesthesia Machine—which is designed to safely deliver anesthesia even in the absence of electrical power or medical-grade oxygen. This will help scale up the availability of safe surgery, including the use of anesthesia for safe Caesarean-section, a critical component of comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care. In the targeted regions of Tanzania and Sierra Leone, it is estimated that this intervention will permit an additional 200,000 safe C-sections annually.

SUMMIT Institute of Development (Indonesia) will use a tablet-based open-source decision-support and client record system (“OpenSRP”) to support frontline midwives and community health care workers. The system allows real-time information sharing to  help ensure client-specific, coordinated continuity of care, as well as quality monitoring and demand-side client incentives. This system, “Adaptive Network for Care at Scale” (ANCS), is designed to address the Indonesian context, with a population of 262 million spread over 17,000 islands and 514 districts, as well as relatively stagnant and high maternal and neonatal mortality. ANCS aims to achieve large-scale deployment by integrating with large government programs designed to achieve universal health coverage.

AMAPED (Mali) will scale up innovations with integrated solutions to strengthen quality obstetric and newborn services in the fragile context of Mali, strengthening the continuum of care in 200 community health centers and neonatal intensive care in nine hospitals. The innovations include digital solutions for remote information sharing and knowledge building as well as increasing social cohesion in fragile areas.  The organization will establish information systems to identify and support high-risk pregnancies and sick newborns through antenatal and postpartum home visits and following-up with mothers and newborns through SMS.

This initiative is part of the GFF’s broader approach to innovation to improve the health and well being of women, children and adolescents. The GFF funds the uptake of innovations through eligible country governments and a broad range of implementing partners, with a focus on sustainability and integration into national health systems. These innovations also address critical gaps or bottlenecks in health systems for achieving impact on health and nutrition, as identified in GFF investment cases, or national health development plans and strategies.

About the Global Financing Facility

The Global Financing Facility (GFF) is a multi-stakeholder partnership that is helping countries tackle the greatest health and nutrition issues affecting women, children and adolescents. The GFF Trust Fund is supported by the Governments of Burkina Faso, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, and the United Kingdom; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Susan T. Buffett Foundation; the European Commission; Laerdal Global Health; and MSD for Mothers. The GFF supports governments to bring partners together around a country-led plan, prioritizing high-impact but underinvested areas of health. The GFF Trust Fund acts as a catalyst for financing, with countries using modest GFF Trust Fund grants to significantly increase their domestic resources alongside the World Bank’s IDA and IBRD financing, aligned external financing, and private sector resources. Each relatively small external investment is multiplied by countries’ own commitments—generating a large return on investment, ultimately saving and improving lives. Learn more: