Kybele Receives $2 Million Grant to Improve Neonatal Outcomes in Ghana

November 18, 2013

Kybele Inc., a Winston-Salem-based nonprofit organization dedicated to improving childbirth safety worldwide, has received a four-year, $2.175 million grant to improve neonatal outcomes in the African nation of Ghana.

The grant by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, awarded to Kybele in collaboration with the Seattle-based Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), will fund a project to address preventable maternal and newborn mortality that is commonplace in West Africa.

Kybele was founded in 2004 by Medge D. Owen, M.D., a professor of obstetrical and gynecological anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. She serves as the organization’s president and is the grant project director.

In Africa, approximately 12 percent of children die before their fifth birthday, a rate more than 17 times higher than in industrialized regions. Approximately half of these deaths occur during the first four weeks of life.

“The high level of neonatal loss is devastating,” Owen said. “Most of the deaths could be prevented with a few simple changes. Through this project we will introduce technology that is widely utilized in the United States to improve outcomes. A little can go a long way to give these babies a chance.”

Kybele will build upon six years of experience in Ghana to lead the establishment of three Centers of Excellence strategically placed throughout the country, which will serve as training sites for physicians and midwives. The project’s key strategy is to ensure long-term technical competency by improving the clinical skills of health care professionals, identifying and nurturing local champions who will serve as role models and coaches for clinicians around the country, improving hospital standards and protocols and developing a rigorous system of continuous quality improvement to ensure sustained impact over time.

“This project is unique because it uses a multidisciplinary, team-oriented approach and blends hands-on clinical training with leadership development and quality improvement,” Owen said. “In addition, our team is acclimated to medical and cultural conditions in Ghana, making it easier to establish a true partnership with the local physicians and nurses. The results to date have been pretty amazing.”

The project will include faculty members from Wake Forest School of Medicine and the medical schools at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill. Four times a year, Kybele will send teams of neonatologists, obstetricians, obstetric anesthesiologists, midwives and organizational experts to Ghana to provide training and support at the three Centers of Excellence.

Also, Kybele has entered into a partnership with the Office of Global Health at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Under this agreement, the two entities will collaborate on global health and wellness activities, work to improve health care safety and offer educational and training opportunities to clinicians and students at Wake Forest Baptist and other U.S. institutions.

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