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Last week, at the 7th annual Saving Lives at Birth DevelopmentXChange, Gradian Health Systems was awarded a “transition to scale” grant for a project to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in Zambia. The two-year project – valued at nearly $1 million – will strengthen emergency care during childbirth by equipping more than 30 Zambian hospitals with Gradian’s Universal Anaesthesia Machine (UAM) and offering specialized training courses for anesthesia providers and biomedical technicians.

Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development is a partnership led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and governments of Canada, Korea, Norway and the United Kingdom. Offering seed, validation and scaling grants for innovative solutions to lower maternal and newborn mortality, Saving Lives at Birth selected 15 innovations at last Thursday’s ceremony from more than 550 initial proposals.

Gradian’s project – a partnership that includes the Society of Anaesthesiologists of Zambia (SAZ), Tropical Health & Education Trust (THET), Sonergy Diagnostics and the Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ) – was awarded a grant to scale up the UAM – the world’s only internationally-certified anesthesia machine designed to work without electricity and medical oxygen.

“We’re absolutely honored to have this opportunity,” said Stephen Rudy, Gradian’s Chief Executive Officer. “We have the chance to demonstrate the central role of anesthesia in emergency obstetric care and surgical care more broadly – paving the way for our Zambian colleagues to take the project forward and deliver an early win for the country’s new surgical policy.”

The Zambian Ministry of Health recently launched the world’s first National Surgical, Obstetric and Anaesthesia Strategic Plan to help overcome high maternal and newborn mortality rates and limited access to surgical care, such as C-sections. Gradian’s Saving Lives at Birth project seeks to overcome this challenge by equipping 33 hospitals in four provinces with the UAM, providing specialized clinical courses on obstetric and pediatric anesthesia and offering a technical workshop on devices required for safe surgical and obstetric care.

“Improving Zambia’s capacity to deliver safe anesthesia care could have a significant impact on reducing maternal and newborn mortality,” said Dr. Abel Mwale, anesthesiologist and acting president of SAZ. “As a Society, we’re thrilled to have the chance to upgrade the clinical skills of anesthesia providers through this Saving Lives at Birth award!”

The project is set to roll out in 2018 and lay a foundation for national expansion. For more information on this year’s Saving Lives at Birth award nominees, see the official announcement.

Click here to visit our microsite devoted to the project.

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