Freedom of Breath, Foundation of Life: China’s Neonatal Resuscitation Program

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China , Topic: Systems Strengthening

[Note: This case study was originally published in 2009. Download a PDF or read the case study here.]

Birth asphyxia is the No. 1 cause of infant mortality in Chinese cities and the No. 2 cause of mortality of children less than five years old nationwide. Birth asphyxia occurs before, during or just after birth, when a baby is deprived of oxygen. Though previous collaborative efforts attempted to bring lifesaving technology to select regions of China, the Freedom of Breath, Foundation of Life multi-sector partnership was the first to successfully implement the China Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) in a systematic and sustainable way across the country through governmental, professional and private enterprise collaboration.

Lessons Learned:

  • Government support lends credibility and urgency to the implementation of health programs.
  • Medical organizations can help build awareness and support for programs and set a foundation for scale-up opportunities.
  • Once a critical program goal is met, it is essential to work on sustainability issues and building long-lasting enthusiasm for future growth.


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