Skilled Attendants Use Helping Babies Breathe® Method to Save Newborns in the DRC

 {Photo credit: MSH}Marie Miambokila Mumba and her newborn twins at the Luiza General Referral Hospital in Kasaï Occidental, DRC.Photo credit: MSH

Marie Miambokila Mumba, 38, had a smooth pregnancy and attended all of her scheduled prenatal consultations at the Luiza Tutante Health Center, located in Kasaï Oriental province in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). When Mumba was ready to give birth at the Luiza General Referral Hospital in August 2014, her baby was delivered safely by skilled birth attendant Judith Kambuyi.

However, within moments, Kambuyi realized that Mumba was delivering a second baby. Despite her prenatal consultations, the health center’s staff had not detected that Mumba was carrying twins. The second baby was struggling to breathe upon delivery. Kambuyi, trained in the Helping Babies Breathe® (HBB) technique, quickly assessed and resuscitated the child during the first critical minute after delivery: The Golden Minute®.

HBB, an evidence-based, neonatal resuscitation approach for resource-limited settings, is an initiative of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Saving Newborn Lives, and the National Institute of Child Health and Development. HBB promotes attendants skilled in HBB at every birth, assessments of newborns, temperature support, stimulation to breathe, and assisted ventilation as needed, all within “The Golden Minute" after birth.

In August 2012 Kambuyi attended a HBB training organized by the DRC-Integrated Health Project (DRC-IHP) as a response to high neonatal mortality rates in the DRC—approximately 104 deaths for every 1,000 live births. DRC-IHP, funded by USAID and led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH) with partners the International Rescue Committee and Overseas Strategic Consulting, Ltd., works to improve the basic health conditions of the Congolese people in 78 health zones in four provinces.

Prior to the HBB training, the hospital in Luiza struggled with a high infant mortality rate. Thanks to the HBB training and other capacity building health interventions, such as training on Active Management of the Third Stage of Labor (AMTSL), as well as the provision of caesarian and neonatal resuscitation kits, the hospital has been able to save 22 babies who were delivered in distress from January to September 2014.

Says Kambuyi, who was trained with 11 other nursing staff from Luiza General Referral Hospital:

It's a source of pride to save lives. I have been a birth attendant for 24 years, but it was IHP that made me more effective as a result of the HBB training.