By Dr. Sally Pairman, ICM Chief Excecutive

Every baby deserves a happy birthday – a fair chance to survive and thrive – and every woman deserves a positive, safe childbirth

Care from a competent midwife, educated to international standards, plays a critical role in improving outcomes. Poor quality care is now a greater barrier to reducing mortality than insufficient access to care. Providers must be able to detect and manage the life-threatening complications that lead to tragic outcomes. The Helping Mothers Survive (HMS) and Helping Babies Survive (HBS) educational programmes teach these essential life-saving skills. 

Each time a midwife learns a new life-saving skill through training in one HMS or HBS module she can ensure a ‘happy birthday’ — a live mother and a live baby or no maternal and newborn morbidity or the woman can express satisfaction with her birth experience — often all of these.

Over the course of her career a midwife can ensure hundreds of happy birthdays, hence the name of this project. 

The success of our 50,000 Happy Birthdays project is a testament to the benefit of investment in educating midwives and in maintaining their competence through ongoing training. Not only have mothers, babies, and families celebrated many happy birthdays as a result of this project, but the strategic focus of building the capacity of the national Midwives’ Associations to deliver the project, and collaborating with regulators to embed the training into national re-licensing requirements, has ensured the long-term sustainability of the project. 

ICM is proud of this project and its core partnership with Laerdal Global Health. Together we have made a difference to many lives and we have demonstrated an important mechanism for improving the quality of care that is now ready for further scale up to other countries and regions where even more happy birthdays can be celebrated.