Freedom of Breath, Fountain of Life

Partnership objectives

  1. Reduce neonatal mortality in China.
  2. Increase skills of perinatal health care workers to address birth asphyxia.
  3. Have at least one trained health care worker at the bedside during birth at all facility births.

When Yang Song’s son, Song Xiaoyan, was born, he could not breathe on his own until nurses performed life-giving resuscitation. When Yang Song’s son, Song Xiaoyan, was born, he could not breathe on his own until nurses performed life-giving resuscitation. Copyright J&J

What are the health needs and challenges?

Birth asphyxia— an inability to breathe at birth — happens with approximately one out of every 10 babies. Birth asphyxia is a major cause of infant mortality and can contribute to developmental issues such as cerebral palsy and mental retardation.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges:

Johnson & Johnson has programs that address birth asphyxia in China, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa, Uganda and Vietnam. The largest of these is China’s Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP), also known as Freedom of Breath, Fountain of Life.  Since 2010, professionals and other birth attendants trained through these programs have touched the lives of more than 12.6 million women and children. Johnson & Johnson is committed to continue to focus on providing hands-on training to local hospitals and clinics to reduce mortality in situations where basic training can save a life.

How challenges are addressed by the partnership activities:

Nurses, as both clinical partners and NRP trainers, are a key element in the program’s success and scale-up. The success of the program has led to a policy change in China. Now, neonatal resuscitation certification is a professional requirement for nurses, midwives and obstetricians working in labor and delivery.

Summary of impact and forward looking information:

Since the program launched in 2004, neonatal mortality caused by birth asphyxia has declined in China by more than 53 percent, based on evaluated program sites in 20 target provinces (each of which has more than 20,000 hospitals). The NRP in China has saved more than 90,000 babies in its first five years and cut birth asphyxia deaths by almost half in 360 evaluated hospitals.

In 2010, Johnson & Johnson committed to extending the reach of the NRP until 2015.

Partnership information

Company(ies) Johnson & Johnson

Partner(s) American Academy of Pediatrics, CDC China, Chinese Ministry of Health, Chinese Nursing Society, Chinese Perinatal Society, Chinese Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals, Government, NGOs, Professional Associations

Therapeutic Focus Women and Children's Health

Disease(s) Children's Health, Obstetrics, Women's Health

Program Type(s) Health System Infrastructure - Training

Targeted Population(s) Children, Marginalised / Indigenous People, Mothers, People with low income, Women

Region(s) East Asia & Pacific

Number of Countries 1

Country(ies) China

Start Date 2006

More information Giving Breath To Life

Anticipated completion date 2015

« The first time we did the training, the group left the room completely enthusiastic about training others…and that’s part of the magic. »

May Li, Manager, Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Institute in Shanghai