A trio of life-saving devices reduces childbirth mortality


Two of the UN Millennium Development Goals are to reduce child and maternal mortality by 2015. Norwegian product developers have designed a trio of highly effective and low cost solutions to do just that. The Natalie Collection consists of the NeoNatalie Suction, NeoNatalie Newborn Simulator and the MamaNatalie Birthing Simulator and are all designed to save thousands of lives.

25% of all deaths among children under the age of 5, and almost 50% of maternal deaths occur on the day of birth. Most of these deaths are preventable. Every year nearly 1 million babies die from birth asphyxia, making it the second highest cause of newborn mortality; another million are disabled for life, due to compromised breathing during birth. A further million are classified as stillborn. Most of these babies can be saved.

Every day, 3,000 newborn babies die from birth asphyxia along with 1000 birthing mothers. To support the countries where the percentage of preventable birth-related deaths is greatest and in efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 (i.e. to reduce child and maternal deaths), Laerdal Global Health have developed a trio of needs-based, robust and extremely affordable devices and training solutions called The Natalie Collection. More than 100,000 midwifes and birth helpers in 54 countries have been trained using the Natalie Collection and applying their new-found knowledge to save lives by as much as 47%.

In the face of this global challenge, the main problem is that most developing countries don’t have access to affordable training or sufficient education – that’s where Laerdal comes in. The key to success is to provide means and conditions to train skilled professionals. The Natalie Collection does just that and comprises of three products: The NeoNatalie Suction, NeoNatalie Newborn Simulator and the MamaNatalie Birthing Simulator. The learning kit facilitates interactive learning, providing practical hands-on training. After all, a pilot wouldn’t fly a plane without proper training and flight-simulation. Why should a midwife be any different?

The NeoNatalie Suction is a silicone penguin-shaped suction device. It is soft and formidable as to access baby nostrils effectively and safely, can be easily disinfected, all the while being durable and allowing inspection of the suctioned material due to its transparency. Its form is also inviting to use, and after all – it’s easy to just say “penguin” in stressful situations.

The NeoNatalie Newborn Simulator is more than just a mannequin. It only focuses on the important aspects of a baby’s body to provide realism only where it is important. Details such as weight, head articulation, umbilical pulse, as well as the babies’ breath and heartbeat have been simulated as closely as possible, making the subsequent handling of a real-life baby only a minor adjustment.

The Mama Natalie Birthing Simulator is a wearable contraption, which simulates a woman’s womb in a realistic, yet culturally sensitive and inoffensive way. Again, only the most important aspects are focused on and aesthetic details are left out to provide the best training possible without distractions. Also, the simulator is compatible with the use of fake blood in training to deal with post birth bleeding, which is a leading cause of maternal deaths.

The Natalie Collection is just one of Laerdal’s initiatives to help low resource countries significantly reduce infant, child and maternal mortality. By 2015, Laerdal Global Health aims to help save more than 250,000 lives a year through their culturally adapted, highly affordable, and simple to use designs, that will hopefully be used to train and equip more than 1 million birth attendants.

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