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Infant mortality consortium, pioneered by Emory-Ethiopia Partnership, receives $4.5 million grant

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The consortium taking part in the SLL program includes UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Emory, as well was as Addis Ababa, Mekelle and Hawassa universities, all in Ethiopia. 

Emory University’s School of Nursing is sharing in a $4.5 million grant as part of a multinational consortium working to reduce infant mortality in Ethiopia. 

Saving Little Lives at Birth (SLL) has also been named the flagship program of the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, an endorsement highlighting the importance of maternal-infant health to Ethiopia’s well-being.

The consortium taking part in the SLL program includes UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Emory, as well was as Addis Ababa, Mekelle and Hawassa universities, all in Ethiopia. They are sharing in the grant from the Global Financing Facility. 

SLL builds on the work launched by the Emory-Ethiopia partnership, which has been transforming patient care and nursing education in Ethiopia for more than 11 years. The partnership’s infant mortality initiative is led by Abebe Gebremariam, MD, in-country director of the Emory-Ethiopia Program, and John Cranmer, DNP, MPH, MSN, assistant clinical professor at Emory University School of Nursing. 

The purpose of SLL is to reduce preventable infant deaths, using proven methods such as:

  • KMC (formerly known as Kangaroo Mother Care), a low-cost intervention in which a parent or caregiver holds a newborn in continuous skin-to-skin contact during the crucial early days of life. Demonstrated to be as effective as an incubator in many cases, this simple act encourages breastfeeding, promotes bonding and controls the baby’s body temperature, among other benefits;
  • Emergency resuscitation of infants who have stopped breathing, and CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) for those in respiratory distress;
  • Nutritional support;
  • Early recognition and treatment of sepsis (bloodstream infections) in newborns, among other interventions.

The Saving Little Lives project was one of only five selected by GFF for its 2019 Innovation-to-Scale Initiative, out of 320 eligible proposals across 26 countries. Aiming

to rapidly accelerate already-proven public health programs, GFF selected SLL because of its sustainable, locally tailored approach and the medical evidence underlying its interventions. (KMC, for instance, is backed by nearly 35 years of medical research.)

Housed at the World Bank, GFF is a global partnership which supports health care programs for women, children and adolescents in 36 low and lower-middle income countries.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Health will officially recognize the GFF award and announce SLL as its flagship program at an upcoming Saving Little Lives Launching Workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The in-person event will include speakers from the Emory-Ethiopia partnership, UNICEF, and the Ethiopian Ministry of Health. Tassew Woldehana, president of Addis Ababa University, will give the keynote address.

SLL Ethiopia is one of several parallel projects taking place in high-risk locations for maternal-infant health across the globe, including India and the state of Georgia, which is home to Emory. Insights that arise from this project will inform health care policy and care delivery for women and children on a global scale.

For Emory University faculty or staff interested in learning more about the project, please contact Rose Hayes at the School of Nursing.  

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