Association, Education, Research

50,000 Happy Birthdays

American Academy of Pediatrics, ICM, Jhpiego, Laerdal, LDSC

50,000 Happy Birthdays was led by ICM and national midwives’ associations (MAs) in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania. The programme ran from 2018 – 2020, and aimed to train, equip and support MAs, midwives and other health care providers with the skills they need to save the lives of mothers and newborns.

The 50KHB programme was funded by Laerdal Global Health (LGH) and the Latter-day Saint Charities (LDSC). Its main objective was to train, equip and support midwives’ associations (MAs), midwives and other health care providers to enable more Happy Birthdays in the programme countries. Within this overall objective, the programme aimed to:

  • Strengthen pre-service teaching and learning in educational institutions to enable institutionalisation of the Helping Mothers Survive (HMS) and Helping Babies Survive (HBS) learning modules
  • Support in-service continuing professional development (CPD) programmes in health facilities to implement the HMS and HBS modules
  • Improve specific birth outcomes (related to the HMS and HBS module content) for women and newborns
  • Strengthen the capacity of the MAs in the three countries

Helping Mothers Survive (HMS) is a suite of programmes developed by Jhpiego, in line with the 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 haemorrhage, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia.

Helping Babies Survive (HBS) is a suite of programmes developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), based on WHO guidelines. These training programmes address the main causes of neonatal mortality and morbidity and include: 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 programmes, when well implemented, reduce newborn and maternal mortality at birth.

The programme planted seeds of change. There are indications from Ministries of Health and MAs that things will continue to progress based on 50KHB inputs.


facilities included


midwives trained


supervised practice sessions

Project Impact

The training component of the programme was effectively delivered in all three countries. Beneficiaries exhibited remarkable enthusiasm towards the programme, perceiving the training as both relevant and critically important. They emphasised the practical skills taught and the ongoing mentorship provided by on-site master trainers, which they believed set this training apart from their prior experiences. Consequently, they felt that the training significantly improved their clinical skills, self-assurance, and the level of respect for midwives and midwifery within their respective countries.

The programme featured two innovative elements, namely, LDHF practice sessions and the cascade approach to training. Generally, stakeholders held favourable opinions regarding both aspects. LDHF practice sessions were seen as essential for reinforcing the newly acquired skills and knowledge while fostering teamwork. The cascade approach was considered cost-efficient as it enabled the programme to reach a larger number of beneficiaries.

The enthusiasm displayed by beneficiaries and the improvements in the quality of care and maternal and newborn health outcomes at the implementation sites are indicative of the high quality of the training.