Carrie Jo Cain, program health director with World Hope International (WHI), is the winner of the prestigious Children’s Prize. Now in its third year, the Children’s Prize is an annual global competition seeking to fund the best and most effective child survival project proposing to save the greatest number of children’s lives. The $250,000 award will be used to implement the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) program to save an estimated 5,336 lives at birth in Sierra Leone over the course of two years.
As a US-trained neonatal, pediatric and emergency room registered nurse who grew up in Sierra Leone, Carrie Jo is uniquely poised to lead the project and implement the HBB training curriculum in rural, underserved villages in Sierra Leone. Through the program, Carrie Jo and her team will teach over 2,000 Maternal Child Health aides (MCH aides) and Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) essential skills in newborn resuscitation.
According to Carrie Jo, “Too many babies are dying needlessly because their mothers don’t have caregivers with the training and basic equipment to perform simple lifesaving measures at birth. Sustainable interventions that can be implemented by local people are critical to getting the country back on track and reducing the very high rate of child mortality.”
While the evidence-based educational program has already been implemented in 77 countries over the past four years, Cain has the opportunity to test HBB in uncharted territory. The HBB curriculum was designed for use in health facilities, and there is a strong need to expand the capacity to include home births, therefore improving survival conditions where most births occur. Carrie Jo, who is fluent in the local dialect, Krio, will train MCH aides and TBAs to save newborns who are not only delivered at health facilities, but also at home or in community settings.
Carrie Jo and WHI’s winning project will be the first to systematically evaluate HBB in Sierra Leone and to study whether the curriculum is effective in changing the practices of birth attendants and birth outcomes both at and away from facilities. This will help determine whether HBB will be effective in its current form, or if it will need significant adaptation to work in this context.
“Thank you to the Children’s Prize for allowing us to draw attention to this very important cause, and to the people of Sierra Leone for your determination to build something better” said Carrie Jo.
You can learn more about this Skild supported competition here.