GEI Professional Development Programs – An outlook

by Waleed Fatth (GEI Global Programs Manager, Berlin)
It’s that time of year again when most of us realize that we want to make changes in our lives that support our goals for a healthier and happier life – for ourselves and for others. It’s not unusual to think of the New Year as the perfect time to begin something new that will make a real difference and promote positive change in the world around us. One possible resolution for the New Year could be to commit to a new life experience that would give us a chance to actually bring about change in other parts of the world. We could take this ideal one step further and consider how we might even support global efforts to save more than half a million babies. This personal decision to do something positive for 2014 would help a country like Rwanda prevent infant deaths due to birth asphyxia – when babies are born not breathing – which accounts for 45% of all neonatal deaths.

In 2000, Rwanda had one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world with an estimated 107 deaths per 1,000 live births. This tragic infant mortality rate represented more than 50% of the mortality rate for children under-five years of age, meaning that most of the child deaths in Rwanda occurred during the first year of life. The tragic reality of this situation proved to be a daunting challenge for the country to overcome, in order to achieve Goal #4 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which calls for reducing child mortality by two-thirds by the year 2015.

In spite of these initial challenges, Rwanda has made tremendous progress towards reducing child mortality as part of their commitment to the MDGs. The Ministry of Health in Rwanda encouraged and endorsed numerous healthcare programs and medical interventions that have helped to increase the survival chances of children and infants across the country. Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) is one of these simple yet incredibly effective interventions. HBB helps to reduce infant mortality by teaching local healthcare providers and birth attendants an evidence-based neonatal resuscitation technique, specially designed for low income settings where resources and medical technology are scarce. This educational program is a lifesaving intervention that empowers nurses, midwives, and doctors to resuscitate and prevent the death of a newborn baby who has not yet had the chance to experience even one minute of life.

At GEI, we believe that every human being counts. Our goal as an institution is to prevent the many senseless infant deaths in Rwanda and other countries in the developing world, and the tragic, painful loss experienced by the parents of these innocent babies. We are tackling this pressing issue by recruiting skilled people from around the world to assist us with our mission, people who are willing to share their time and talent teaching others this life-saving technique. We are strongly committed to spreading the simple and effective knowledge and practical skills of the HBB curriculum to as many nurses and midwives as possible. Our resolution for 2014 is to recruit and actively train 2,000 nurses and midwives across Rwanda. However, we can only make this happen with your support and determination to engage in our mission. Join us now to empower communities across Rwanda and help a newborn baby have a fighting chance at life. This is an opportunity to fulfill your own personal resolution to make a meaningful difference and help promote positive change in our globalized world. Join us now and let’s make 2014 truly the healthiest and happiest year yet, for ourselves and for the people of Rwanda.