Astellas Global Health Foundation

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Partner Since: 2019

The Astellas Global Health Foundation (Foundation) awarded a nearly $700,000 grant over two years in 2019 to UNICEF USA’s Mothers and Babies in Good Care Initiative (MBIGCI) to impact 45,000 lives in the Dominican Republic.

Through this funding for UNICEF, the Foundation is helping to improve the quality of public health services for mothers and newborn babies in the Dominican Republic.

To maximize impact, the program is focused on 10 hospitals and community health centers where 70 percent of maternal and neonatal mortality in the Dominican Republic is concentrated. Program interventions are centered on strengthening essential maternal and newborn services, such as breastfeeding support, the establishment of quality committees to review the hospital improvement plans, and implementation of kangaroo care which uses skin-to-skin contact between parents and babies.  The goal of the program is to transform care and decrease maternal and newborn mortality in the Dominican Republic.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, redirected funding from the Foundation’s grant helped UNICEF to take decisive action and develop a comprehensive response to ensure the continuity of health services in the Dominican Republic. This flexible support allowed UNICEF to guide the Ministry of Health and the National Health Service in the development of technical guidance for maternal and neonatal care in the COVID-19 context; create guidelines for the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding in the COVID-19 context; and establish an evaluation protocol on the immediate care of newborns. UNICEF also supported the design of informative brochures about COVID-19, so that mothers could receive counseling at the community level. All of these actions helped to safeguard mothers and newborn babies during a challenging time. 

With the Foundation’s support, The Mothers and Babies in Good Care Initiative will continue to improve the conditions where children are born and ensure greater quality of care for all mothers in the Dominican Republic.