Lessons learned from helping babies survive in humanitarian settings

Ribka Amsalu, Catrin Schulte-Hillen, Daniel Martinez Garcia, Nadia Lafferty, Catherine N. Morris, Stephanie Gee, Nadia Akseer, Elaine Scudder, Samira Sami, Sammy O. Barasa, Hussein Had, Maimun Farah Maalim, Seidou Moluh, Sara Berkelhamer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Humanitarian crises, driven by disasters, conflict, and disease epidemics, have profound effects on society, including on people’s health and well-being. Occurrences of conflict by state and nonstate actors have increased in the last 2 decades: by the end of 2018, an estimated 41.3 million internally displaced persons and 20.4 million refugees were reported worldwide, representing a 70% increase from 2010. Although public health response for people affected by humanitarian crisis has improved in the last 2 decades, health actors have made insufficient progress in the use of evidence-based interventions to reduce neonatal mortality. Indeed, on average, conflict-affected countries report higher neonatal mortality rates and lower coverage of key maternal and newborn health interventions compared with non–conflict-affected countries. As of 2018, 55.6% of countries with the highest neonatal mortality rate ($30 per 1000 live births) were affected by conflict and displacement. Systematic use of new evidence-based interventions requires the availability of a skilled health workforce and resources as well as commitment of health actors to implement interventions at scale. A review of the implementation of the Helping Babies Survive training program in 3 refugee responses and protracted conflict settings identify that this training is feasible, acceptable, and effective in improving health worker knowledge and competency and in changing newborn care practices at the primary care and hospital level. Ultimately, to improve neonatal survival, in addition to a trained health workforce, reliable supply and health information system, community engagement, financial support, and leadership with effective coordination, policy, and guidance are required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020016915L
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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