Background: Early neonatal mortality has remained high and unchanged for many years in Tanzania, a resource-limited country. Helping Babies Breathe (HBB), a novel educational program using basic interventions to enhance delivery room stabilization/resuscitation, has been developed to reduce the number of these deaths.
Methods: Master trainers from the 3 major referral hospitals, 4 associated regional hospitals, and 1 district hospital were trained in the HBB program to serve as trainers for national dissemination. A before (n = 8124) and after (n = 78 500) design was used for implementation. The primary outcomes were a reduction in early neonatal deaths within 24 hours and rates of fresh stillbirths (FSB).
Results: Implementation was associated with a significant reduction in neonatal deaths (relative risk [RR] with training 0.53; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.43-0.65; P ≤ .0001) and rates of FSB (RR with training 0.76; 95% CI 0.64-0.90; P = .001). The use of stimulation increased from 47% to 88% (RR 1.87; 95% CI 1.82-1.90; P ≤ .0001) and suctioning from 15% to 22% (RR 1.40; 95% CI 1.33-1.46; P ≤ .0001) whereas face mask ventilation decreased from 8.2% to 5.2% (RR 0.65; 95% CI 0.60-0.72; P ≤ .0001).
Conclusions: HBB implementation was associated with a significant reduction in both early neonatal deaths within 24 hours and rates of FSB. HBB uses a basic intervention approach readily applicable at all deliveries. These findings should serve as a call to action for other resource-limited countries striving to meet Millennium Development Goal 4.