Stories from the Field in Niger

​​Helping Babies Breath Training in Niger

-A   +A
​HBB in Niger, Cindy Uttley, CNM, MSN, RN
September 2017

Niger has one of the world’s highest birth rates and newborn mortality rates, so it was a great privilege to conduct what is believed to be Niger’s first Helping Babies Breathe workshop in September this year. We met in the capital of Niamey and trained 18 nurses from two remote parts of Niger as Trainers of Trainers. They have committed to roll out the training they received to an additional 65 health staff and will have access to manikins to do so. (The manikins are being loaned to them on a rotating basis from the host NGO, Samaritan’s Purse.)

​​As a woman, working with a Christian organization, it was humbling to teach these Muslim men, at least two of whom were also Imams. These men had never been taught by a woman and many of whom had not spent any time around Christians. It was a unique opportunity to see some cultural barriers come down as they gradually became more receptive to the training and guidance while they practiced their skills. ​​​​

In order to draw attention to the experience of the participants, we added up the total number of years of experience represented in the room. This came to a total of 430 years! We worked hard to affirm their level of commitment in order to foster embracing these skills which were new to them. When they were given the opportunity to demonstrate their skills one on one, with modest coaching, they all passed. One participant expressed in writing his deep gratitude for the training as “it is truly a training that will save many human lives and remove our ignorance”.

The best news came two short months after the training was completed; three newborns have been successfully resuscitated as a result of this training. One of the nurses informed our staff that “approximately 20% of the babies he delivers need resuscitation care…, only the most desperate (and ill) mothers deliver at the health center due to the long distances between health centers and a general neglect of prenatal care.”​

We anticipate that the successful resuscitations will begin to be reflected in the district’s statistics which are reported to the Ministry of Health. These reports of resuscitations not only validate the training and the techniques, but we are hopeful that they will incline the MOH to be more receptive to other offers to provide HBB training and will consider supporting a national rollout.

Cindy Uttley, CNM, MSN, RN
Community Health Advisor | PROJECTS​
P.O. BOX 3000 | BOONE, NC 28607 | USA