Saving Little Lives

Ethiopia, with an estimated 97,000 neonatal deaths annually and a neonatal mortality rate of 33 per 1,000 live births, is considered one of the most dangerous places for newborns. Around the globe, neonates with preterm and low-birth weight (PT-LBW) make up approximately 80% of all neonatal deaths. The Ministry of Health (MoH) has set a goal to decrease the neonatal mortality rate from 33 per 1,000 live births in 2019 to 12 in 2025.

The Saving Little Lives (SLL) initiative, led and coordinated by the Ministry of Health and regional health bureaus, aims to reduce neonatal mortality by 35% at the scale-up sites. This will be achieved by ensuring 80% coverage of Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), CPAP treatment, bag & mask resuscitation, and sepsis treatment among eligible PT-LBW neonates across 290 hospitals in six major regions.

The MoH has partnered with seven regional health bureaus (RHBs), four academic institutions, and UNICEF to design, expand, and evaluate the SLL program, which is funded by the Global Financing Facility (GFF). Additionally, a global technical advisory group (TAG) comprising the Laerdal Foundation, BMGF, UNICEF, WHO, LSHTM, Harvard SOM/SPH, and the Ethiopia Pediatric Society has been assembled to ensure SLL’s effective use of global learnings and scientific insights.

The SLL scale-up is being implemented in three phases, covering 73, 145, and 73 hospitals in the first, second, and third phases, respectively. Continuous data collection and analysis is employed to inform and refine the intervention and enhance program performance.