Back 19 February 2018

PRESS RELEASE: Empowering Midwives: Helping mothers and babies survive through 50,000 Happy Birthdays


Lusaka, Zambia, 19 February 2018 – Every year, approximately 300,000 mothers and 2.7 million newborns die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Most of these lives could be saved through care from educated and regulated midwives working in an enabling environment. For midwives, developing and maintaining skills to manage unanticipated problems at the time of birth is vital. The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) in partnership with Laerdal Global Health (LGH), aim to meet this urgent need through the launch of the 50,000 Happy Birthdays programme which will help save the lives of mothers and babies.


The 50,000 Happy Birthdays is a programme implemented by ICM and the national midwives associations from Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania with the support from LGH. It builds on the success of the 10,000 Happy Birthdays project, implemented in Zambia and Malawi from 2014-2016, which increased the professional capacity of 10,000 midwives in Helping Mothers Survive Bleeding after Birth (HMS BAB) and Helping Babies Breath (HBB).

The programme will be implemented from 2018-2020 with the aim of contributing to improving the quality of maternal and new-born health care by strengthening midwives’ competencies using the Helping Mothers Survive (HMS) and Helping Babies Survive (HBS) Training modules. 50,000 Happy Birthdays establishes a national base of master trainers in HMS and HBS who will promote best practice within health facilities and midwifery education institutions.

The 50,000 Happy Birthdays Programme will be launched in Lusaka, Zambia by the Minister of Health, Honorable Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, and it will be complemented with the five-day workshop, to be opened by Dr. Jabbin Mulwanda, Zambia’s Permanent Secretary Technical Services. The goals of the workshop are to continue collaborative project planning for 10,000 Happy Birthdays project implementation plans and to inform relevant stakeholders of the Helping Mothers Survive and Helping Babies Survive Modules to be used in the 50,000 Happy Birthday Programme.

Commenting during the launch ceremony, ICM President, Franka Cadée said, ““50,000 Happy Birthdays is driven by cross-sectoral partnership. Ministries of Health work alongside Midwives Associations and civil society partners to create a network of midwives who are highly-skilled, regulated and supported.”

Ms. Cadée further added, “with partnership with the private sector, our reach and resources are vastly improved. And because Midwives Associations are the backbone of this project, they are directly responsible for every triumph, every life saved, and every happy birthday.”

Participants of the workshop will include, ICM President, Franka Cadée; Laerdal Global Health Chairman, Tore Laerdal, representatives from Jhpiego, American Academy of Pediatrics, representatives from Midwives Associations in Malawi, Zambia, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania, ICM midwifery advisors, LGH technical team and other stakeholders.


50,000 Happy Birthdays: A Summary

A happy birthday is a live and healthy mother, a live and healthy baby, a happy and excited woman with a positive experience, and a very happy family. For every care provider trained in the combination of HMS and HBS training programmes there is a potential of saving more lives on the day of birth every year. A mother who has given birth safely to a healthy baby and has received respectful maternity care will experience a ''happy birth day". A live and healthy baby with a confident and happy mother will go on to have many more ‘happy birthdays’ in its lifetime. The concept of a ‘happy birthday’ is far reaching and midwives whose competencies are developed further through this programme will have a positive impact on women, their newborns and families for years to come.  


The 10,000 Happy Birthdays project was launched at the ICM 30th Triennial Congress in Prague as a collaboration with Laerdal Global Health to introduce and scale up for the Helping Babies Breathe and Helping Mothers Survive in Malawi and Zambia. The goal was to train, equip and support 10,000 midwives so that they could ensure 10,000 more happy birthdays and to strengthen midwifery in these countries. Since then these programs have been scaled up to increase national coverage by Association of Malawi Midwives (AMAMI) and Midwives Association of Zambia (MAZ) and the midwifery associations are stronger than ever.

About Helping Mothers Survive (HMS) and Helping Babies Survive (HBS)

Helping Mothers Survive (HMS) is a suite of programmes developed by Jhpiego, in line with the latest WHO guidelines, and endorsed by global professional organizations such as ICM, FIGO, AAP, ICN, and UNFPA. HMS provides health workers with skills in prevention, detection and management of the leading causes of maternal deaths including bleeding after birth/postpartum hemorrhage and pre-eclampsia & eclampsia.. Read more

Helping Babies Survive (HBS) is a suite of programmes developed by American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and based on the latest WHO guidelines. These training programmes address the main causes of neonatal mortality and morbidity and includes; Helping Babies Breathe, Essential Care for Every Baby and Essential Care for Small Babies. A body of large-scale, peer-reviewed studies have shown that HBS and HMS simulation-based training programs, when well implemented, reduce newborn and maternal mortality at birth. Read more

About ICM                                                                                                                                                                    The International Confederation of Midwives supports, represents and works to strengthen professional associations of midwives throughout the world to achieve common goals in the care of mothers and newborns. Currently, there are 132 member associations in 113 countries across every continent. ICM is organized in six regions – Africa (Anglophone & Francophone), Americas (North America & Caribbean and Latin America), Western Pacific, Eastern Mediterranean, South East Asia and Europe (North, Central and Southern).

About Laerdal Global Health

Established in 2010, Laerdal Global Health is a not-for-profit company dedicated to helping save lives of mothers and newborns. Working in close collaboration with partners, LGH develops high impact, low cost solutions aimed at helping save lives. These solutions, implemented by partners throughout the world, ensure that health workers are better trained, equipped and supported to provide quality care and save mothers and babies at birth.

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For media inquiries and more information contact: Sawiche Wamunza ICM Communciations Manager – and Camila Barrera Daza LGH Communications Specialist –  


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