Newborn Foundation Joins Partner Organizations to Launch Every Breath Counts Coalition to End Preventable Child Pneumonia Deaths By 2030

pulse oximetry newborn foundation

The Newborn Foundation has announced that it is among 30 partner organizations that officially launched the Every Breath Counts Coalition at UNICEF headquarters on November 3rd in New York City. The Every Breath Counts coalition supports national governments to close child pneumonia gaps, initially in the ten countries with the largest numbers of children at highest risk of death (Chad, Nigeria, Angola, Niger, Somalia, Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Ethiopia).

The Newborn Foundation and coalition partners will work together to help countries close critical gaps in pneumonia prevention, diagnosis, and treatment with the aim of ending preventable child pneumonia deaths by 2030. According to reports launched this week in advance of World Pneumonia Day, expanding pneumococcal vaccine coverage will be a top priority, alongside increasing access to better diagnostic and treatment tools including child-friendly antibiotics, medical oxygen and pulse oximetry.

A Chinese newborn gets a pulse-oximetry screening in the country’s Sichuan Province in May 2016. (Courtesy photo: Annamarie Saarinen)
A Chinese newborn gets a pulse-oximetry screening in the country’s Sichuan Province in May 2016. (Courtesy photo: Annamarie Saarinen) A Chinese newborn gets a pulse-oximetry screening in the country’s Sichuan Province in May 2016. (Courtesy photo: Newborn Foundation)

The Newborn Foundation has been working in India, Ethiopia, and Nigeria as part of a sub-grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop and deploy a combined pulse oximetry and respiratory rate diagnostic device to help earlier identify pneumonia in children under 5 in low resource settings. Additionally, the Newborn Foundation’s BORN Project (Birth Oximetry Routine for Newborns), was among the first joint commitments to the United Nations Secretary General’s Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) initiative. Developed in partnership with Masimo, the project deployed the first smartphone-enabled pulse oximeters. The project aligns with public health initiatives with the goal of reducing newborn mortality from pneumonia, sepsis and congenital heart disease in pilot regions. It also provides substantive data to public health officials to demonstrate the importance of investment in sustainable universal newborn screening programs and improved access to follow-up care for fragile babies. The BORN Project has screened nearly 52,000 newborns across 40 delivery sites in rural China for pneumonia, sepsis, asymptomatic heart defects and other conditions associated with low oxygen saturation.

“Among the most notable findings from the BORN project has been the detection of previously unrecognized pneumonia in newborns,” said Annamarie Saarinen, CEO of the Newborn Foundation. “During our more than 3 years working in China, our research team has documented that 53% of failed pulse oximetry screens results in a diagnosis of “hidden” pneumonia. These babies would have otherwise been discharged from the birth setting and could have died from lack of immediate access to life-saving medicines or oxygen.”

The BORN Project has been conducted in collaboration with the China Office of

Maternal and Child Health Surveillance, China’s CDC, and the Mianyang Health Bureau. It has been supported by Masimo, the Masimo Foundation, and the London-based Global Innovation Fund. More than 1,200 health workers and public health staff across 200 facilities have been trained in neonatal pulse oximetry screening through the BORN project. The project has expanded into India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Mongolia, Bolivia, Peru and Mexico and will launch in Ethiopia and Nigeria in Q2 of 2018 with more than 500,000 babies enrolled in the screening project.