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Perinatal outcomes following Helping Babies Breathe training and regular peer–peer skills practice among village midwives in Sudan
  1. Ali M E Arabi1,
  2. Salah A Ibrahim1,
  3. Abdel-Rahman Manar2,3,
  4. Mohamed S Abdalla1,
  5. Sami E Ahmed4,
  6. Eugene P Dempsey4,
  7. C Anthony Ryan4
  1. 1 Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Khartoum, Khartoum, Sudan
  2. 2 Department of Statistics, Faculty of Mathematical Sciences, University of Khartoum, Khartoum, Sudan
  3. 3 Department of Public Health, College of Health Sciences, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar
  4. 4 Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Cork, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ali M E Arabi, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Khartoum, PO Box 102, Khartoum 11111, Sudan; draliarabi99{at}


Background Over 80% of deliveries in Sudan occur in rural areas, attended by village midwives (VMWs).

Objective To determine the impact of Helping Babies Breathe training and regular peer–peer skills practice (HBBT+RPPSP) on VMW resuscitation practices and outcomes.

Methods In a prospective community-based intervention study, 71/82 VMWs, reporting to six East Nile rural medical centres, with previous experience in community health research, consented to HBBT+RPPSP. Outcomes included changes in the resuscitation practices, fresh stillbirths (FSB) and early neonatal deaths <1 week (ENND).

Results There were 1350 and 3040 deliveries before and after HBBT+RPPSP, respectively, with no significant differences between the two cohorts regarding maternal age, education or area of birth. Drying of the newborn increased almost tenfold (8.4%, n=113 to 74.9%, n=1011) while suctioning of the mouth/nose decreased fivefold (80.3%, n=2442 to 14.4%, n=437) following HBBT+RPPSP. Pre-HBBT+RPPSP9/18 (50%) newborns who had mouth-to-mouth ventilation died, compared with 13/119 (11%) who received bag-mask ventilation post-HBBT+RPPSP. Excluding 11 macerated fetuses, there were 55 perinatal deaths: 14 FSB/18 ENND (6 months pre-HBBT+RPPSP) and 10 FSB/13 ENND (18 months post-HBBT+RPPSP). FSB rates decreased from 10.5 to 3.3 per 1000 births ((χ2)=8.6209, p=0.003), while ENND rates decreased from 13.5 to 4.3 per 1000 live births ((χ2)=10.9369, p=0.001) pre-HBBT+RPPSP and post-HBBT+RPPSP, respectively.

Conclusion In a selected group of VMWs, HBBT+RPPSP was associated with improvements in newborn resuscitation and perinatal outcomes. HBBT+RPPSP could have immense benefits if propagated nationally to all 17 000 VMWs in Sudan.

  • helping babies breathe
  • village midwife
  • newborn resuscitation
  • resuscitation skills
  • sudan

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  • Funding This study was funded by the Irish Aid Civil Society Grant scheme.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement All available data can be obtained by contacting the corresponding author.