USAID Ends Funding Helping Babies Breathe Program

Tayo Olanipekun

The United States Agency for International Development has phased out its financial support for the Help Babies Breathe, an intervention program for preventing newborn deaths.

USAID mobilized over $120 million for the HBB through partnership in the last 10 years and helped roll out this life-saving intervention in more than 80 countries, including Nigeria.

But the aids agency said in a statement on Tuesday that it would stop funding the program as “many national governments have integrated newborn resuscitation fully and sustainably into the way they deliver care for mothers and their infants at birth.”

In Nigeria, presently, experts say the country loses more than 250,000 babies yearly to preventable and treatable causes. The country also ranks highest in Africa and second highest globally in infant deaths.

The primary health care facilities are operating at different levels of functionality with shortages of critical human resources. Supply of medical commodities are poor with continued stock outs in health facilities, in addition to the mass exodus of health practitioners to other countries.

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The phasing out of funding is coming on the heels of USAID 10 years celebration of what it described as a pivotal role it played in funding the scale-up of a simple innovation that saves the lives of newborns who struggle to breathe in their first minute following birth.

Approximately 10 million newborns around the world need assistance after birth to breathe.

HBB was a transformative approach that created a global movement for preventing newborn deaths by using innovative educational materials, equipment, and training to simplify and demystify newborn resuscitation which used to be a complex public health challenge.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, Laerdal Global Health, Save the Children, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are other founding partners in the HBB.

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