News Release: Research , School of Nursing

Nov. 11,  2009

Emory School of Nursing Receives $8.1 Million Gates Foundation Grant

News Article ImageLynn Sibley, RN, PhD

Emory University's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing has received $8,163,298 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a 2 1/2-year project designed to improve maternal and newborn survival rates in rural Ethiopia.

"The School of Nursing and its partners are joining with health care leaders and educators in Ethiopia to improve the care of pregnant women, the experience of childbirth and the health of newborns," says Emory School of Nursing Dean Linda McCauley, RN, PhD, FAAN.

"The sustainable approaches this grant helps us create will mean the difference between life and death, quite literally, for increasing numbers of Ethiopian families," says McCauley.

Led by principal investigator Lynn Sibley, RN, PhD, associate professor in the Emory School of Nursing and Rollins School of Public Health and an associated faculty member in the Department of Anthropology, the grant will enable a team of Emory faculty and graduate students working with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, to create a community-oriented strategy to improve maternal and newborn health in rural Ethiopia and position the approach to be adopted throughout the country.

Emory will also collaborate with Regional Health Bureaus, the John Snow Research and Training Institute, the University Research Corporation and two regional Ethiopian universities.

The collaborators will strive to improve the capability and performance of frontline health care workers, including volunteers and traditional birth attendants, in providing targeted maternal and newborn services around the time of birth. They also will work to increase the demand for those services and promote healthy self-care behaviors.

"Both mothers and babies are most vulnerable during birth and the early postnatal period - up to about 48 hours," says Sibley. "This period of vulnerability provides a window of opportunity to intervene to make a significant contribution to maternal and newborn survival and well-being. We know what to do, but we need to learn how to better reach and engage women and their newborns at this critical time."

Lynn Sibley in Ethiopia

Lynn Sibley in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a country of 80 million people, 85 percent of whom live in rural areas, and has the world's ninth-highest birth rate, according to reports from the World Health Organization. The lifetime risk of dying during childbirth is 1 in 27 in Ethiopia, and the infant mortality rate is 77 deaths per 1,000 live births. Ninety-four percent of births occur in the home, which makes a community-oriented approach to care essential.

Fred Sanfilippo, MD, PhD, executive vice president for health affairs and CEO of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, says, "This grant from the Gates Foundation will help the Woodruff Health Sciences Center make significant progress toward its vision of transforming health and healing, not only in our own community, but also around the world. Our organizations share a deep commitment to global health promotion, and we are grateful to our partners in this lifesaving effort."

Global health and engagement are among the core strategic commitments of the School of Nursing and Emory University overall. The school's Lillian Carter Center for International Nursing develops programs to address the most pressing health challenges around the world. The School of Nursing's global health projects in maternal and child health, nursing education and HIV/AIDS care have included collaborations with sites in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Russia.

The largest single grant ever received by the School of Nursing, the foundation grant supports a key academic focus area of Campaign Emory, the University's $1.6 billion fundraising endeavor.


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

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Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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