GBCHealth Honors Laerdal’s Commitment to Maternal and Newborn Health

25 June 2014 – Laerdal Global Health was today announced as the 2014 winner of the Richard C. Holbrooke Business Leadership Award for Outstanding Contribution to Global Health, GBCHealth’s most prestigious honor. The award recognizes Laerdal Global Health’s exceptional contribution to the health of hundreds of thousands of mothers and babies across the developing world. Eremine Kabanshi, Minister of Community Development and Mother and Child Health, Zambia, and GBCHealth President Nancy Wildfeir-Field presented the award to Tore Laerdal, Laerdal Global Health Managing Director, at USAID’s high-level forum, Acting on the Call: Ending Preventable Maternal and Child Deaths, in Washington, D.C.

“We are delighted to honor Laerdal Global Health with this award,” said Wildfeir-Field, “Tore Laerdal and his organization have demonstrated singularly effective and passionate leadership, with a laser-focus on helping mothers and newborns in low-resource settings survive and thrive.”

Laerdal’s Commitment

Tore Laerdal knows how fragile young life can be. At two-years old he narrowly escaped death by drowning, saved by his father’s instinctual emergency care including rigorous stimulation and skin-to-skin rewarming. A doll-maker by trade, his father went on to develop a life-size, life-like doll, Rescusci Anne, that was used to train healthcare workers and the general public to save lives through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Laerdal Medical is now a world-leading manufacturer of products and training materials for emergency resuscitation education.

In 2010, Laerdal Medical launched Laerdal Global Health to bring its decades of experience in resuscitation training to the developing world. A not-for-profit enterprise, Laerdal Global Health operates in support of UN Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 (to significantly reduce under-5 and maternal mortality by 2015) by developing simple, durable, culturally-appropriate and affordable products and programs that save the lives of mothers and newborns in low-resource settings. Its aim is to save 400,000 more lives per year by 2020 by helping to train and equip more than one million birth attendants, introduce 12-15 disruptive healthcare solutions and catalyze innovative partnerships.

The Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) initiative is just one example of Laerdal Global Health’s leadership. The program, which equips birth attendants in developing countries with the skills to check a baby’s breathing and, if necessary, resuscitate, within The Golden Minute®(the first minute after birth) was launched with help from the American Academy of Pediatrics, WHO, USAID, Saving Newborn Lives and the National Institute of Child Health and Development, among others. A recent study of the HBB program in Tanzania has shown that the program can reduce neonatal mortality by 47 percent. Laerdal Global Health’s new commitment to the “Helping 100,000 Babies Survive and Thrive” campaign, a public-private partnership with Johnson & Johnson, USAID and four national pediatric associations further showcases its commitment and contribution to newborn health. The program will roll out training modules using NeoNatalie® and PreemieNatalie® simulators (life-like newborn and premature-newborn dolls, much like Tore father’s Resusci Anne) to educate clinical staff on newborn care, treatment and resuscitation protocols across Ethiopia, India and Nigeria.

“Laerdal Global Health has consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty, making enormous investments in time, training, funding and product development to improve health providers’ ability to detect and manage the most common and devastating complications of birth and the neonatal period, with a focus on the first 24 hours of life,” Wildfeir-Field said. “If we are to meet Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 by the 2015 deadline —and we must — it is crucial that business comes together to contribute its unique resources to the development and scale-up of sustainable, life-saving solutions for mothers and their babies. Laerdal’s work shows us that it can be done and sets a powerful example for others to follow.”

Tore Laerdal affirmed the importance of private sector action on global health, adding, “I commend GBCHealth for mobilizing business for a healthier world. Our commitments are mission driven, motivated by a strong belief they may also contribute to a healthier company. And our experience is definitely that this impact is best achieved through collaboration, including public-private partnerships.”

Critical Moment for Commitments to Newborn Health

This is the first time that the award has been bestowed on a company that is focusing its efforts on newborn health and comes at a moment when the global health community as a whole is focusing greater attention on maternal and newborn health. The Acting on the Call: Ending Preventable Maternal and Child Deaths event — at which the award was presented — celebrated the extraordinary progress that has been made since the 2012 launch of Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed. The event was part of a suite of activities that took place on June 25th in Washington, D.C., in recognition of the gains made in child survival over the last 25 years and calling for redoubled efforts during the countdown to 2015. 

The launch of the Every Newborn Action Plan at the upcoming Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Partners’ Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 30th-July 1st, will build on this momentum. The Plan calls on the private sector to engage in five key ways: strengthen and invest in care during labor, childbirth and the first day and week of life; improve the quality of maternal and newborn care; reduce inequities; harness the power of parents, families and communities; and count every newborn, i.e. measurement, tracking and accountability.

The Award

Former US diplomat, statesman and UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke led GBCHealth from 2001 to 2008 under its former name, the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and was a passionate advocate for the power of business to create a healthier world. Bestowed annually, this award honors companies and leaders that share and act upon Holbrooke’s vision and is one of the ways in which GBCHealth continues to advocate for greater business action on health. Previous recipients of GBCHealth’s Richard C. Holbrooke Business Leadership Award for Outstanding Contribution to Global Health include Levi-Strauss & Co., the National Basketball Association (NBA), George Soros and Pfizer.

GBCHealth promotes private sector participation in achieving the highest-priority global health goals. Drawing on its active network of companies and public sector partners, GBCHealth drives progress in the areas of greatest need and where the assets of the business community can have maximum impact. GBCHealth’s central focus is the final push to achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by their December 31, 2015 deadline. GBCHealth also helps coordinate private sector input to shape the transition from the MDGs to the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

Nisa PatelGBCHealth Honors Laerdal’s Commitment to Maternal and Newborn Health