Terre des hommes Foundation – Helping Children Worldwide

Switzerland

2018 Balzan Prize for Humanity, Peace and Fraternity among Peoples

For the commitment of the Terre des hommes Foundation-Helping children worldwide to improving the daily lives of the most vulnerable human beings (children and their families), and for saving millions of needy children around the world; and in particular for the Foundation's project SIMSONE in the Ségou region of Mali, which will make it possible – through the provision of caregivers in the field – to save infants during childbirth and to care successfully for their mothers, a project that could be copied and implemented in other countries on a large scale.

   The Terre des hommes Foundation was founded in 1960 in Lausanne by World War II resistance fighter, author and poet Edmond Kaiser, a socially committed individual who was shaken by the accidental death of his two-year-old son. The aim of Terre des hommes at the time was to emphasize children’s rights, the need to combat child exploitation and to assist in development in order to offer children a better future. Today, a number of juridically independent organisations collaborate under the aegis of the Terre des Hommes International Federation.
   The Terre des hommes Foundation, with headquarters in Lausanne, will celebrate its sixtieth anniversary in 2020. The International Convention on the Rights of the Child continues to be the cornerstone around which its activities are developed today. Ensuring access to justice, protecting child victims of conflict, combating the worst forms of exploitation, and providing access to care and psychosocial support to vulnerable children around the world are the main areas of focus of the organisation. The impact and sustainability of such action in the field depend upon the recognition of children’s rights and the active participation of communities and governments.
   Terre des hommes currently assists more than 3,000,000 children and their close relatives in over 45 countries, including in the most difficult to access areas, through its health and childhood protection programmes, and by providing emergency humanitarian assistance. Despite international commitments and efforts to reduce maternal and infant mortality, 2.6 million newborn babies and 300,000 mothers still die every year across the globe; 2.6 million stillbirths can be added to this figure. A study published in June 2018 in Lancet Global Health indicates that 76% of deaths at childbirth in Mali are due to sub-optimal health care. The majority of these deaths could be avoided by reinforcing the training of health caregivers. That is why Terre des hommes has developed perinatal health projects in the most fragile of contexts, including remote and rural areas, for the most vulnerable human beings on the planet.
   The Balzan Prize will enable Terre des hommes to widely implement the SIMSONE 1 project, a mobile unit simulating essential obstetric and newborn care, which proved its value during a pilot phase from October 2016 to October 2017 in the Macina health district of Mali. In just one year, the first SIMSONE mobile unit, consisting of two midwives, trained 68 health caregivers in 21 health centres. The level of practical performance of caregivers in all the health facilities participating in the programme witnessed a spectacular increase, passing from 37.4% to 82.8%. The set of eleven essential procedures to be learned are now correctly performed by around 90% of the caregivers in the different maternity hospitals. An independent evaluation of the project by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute confirmed the effectiveness of the SIMSONE methodology in saving the lives of newborn infants and mothers, as well as in reducing mortality, and supported its implementation on a larger scale.
   Terre des hommes will extend SIMSONE from the Macina district to the entire Ségou region. 700 caregivers will be trained in 200 health centres in this region, which counts nearly 67,000 births per year. Terre des hommes will go to each health centre at least once a month to train caregivers in charge of deliveries. It is estimated that SIMSONE will be able to save at least 150 newborn infants from perinatal asphyxia every month and successfully care for 80 mothers suffering from postpartum hemorrhage. During the geographical extension of the project, training will be reinforced with a new module targeting the second major cause of maternal mortality, eclampsia, a hypertensive condition of pregnancy posing a threat to the health of mother and baby. In conjunction with the local authorities, the SIMSONE project may be replicated and implemented on a large scale both in Mali and in other countries thanks to the Training Manual and an online application capable of evaluating the skills of professionals before and after they intervene.


1 SIM stands for Simulation / SONE for Soins Obstétricaux et Néonataux Essentiels (essential obstetrical and neonatal care)