Working to improve the health of babies worldwide
Until recently, premature birth and birth defects had not been recognized as public health priorities by international health agencies, national governments or donor organizations.
The March of Dimes has worked hard to change this. Since 1998, we have partnered with local organizations in 33 developing countries on four continents to improve the health and care of babies through professional education, public awareness and strengthening parent organizations. We help by providing financial support and sharing our technical expertise and resources. Our professional and public health education materials can be adapted to local conditions and needs. This approach allows us to respect the individual cultural differences of our partner organizations.
We have worked with partners to collect and publish data on the harsh toll of premature birth and birth defects around the world, including regional and national levels. We have also identified steps that countries can take to reduce this toll. These publications have helped get the attention of international policy makers and have already resulted in a much needed increase in funding.
The March of Dimes has conducted numerous international conferences to foster networks among developing and industrialized country experts and to create opportunities for sharing ideas, programs and best practices. These professional ties help build a lasting framework for the future.
See also: Global Network for Maternal and Infant Health, Programs and conferences around the world
Most common questions
How does March of Dimes Global Programs carry out its activities?
March of Dimes Global Programs conducts its work through "mission alliances" with non-governmental partners in target countries that share the March of Dimes mission to prevent birth defects, preterm birth and infant mortality. We focus on collaborative projects that are product-intensive, of short turn-around and measurable. In doing so, we respect the individual cultural differences of our partner organizations. We offer our partners technical expertise and the extensive resources of the March of Dimes, including professional and public health education materials and tools for establishing data collection systems, which have been shown to be easily adapted to local conditions and needs. In doing so, we have become a highly-visible, trusted and respected ally in the eyes of our developing country colleagues. For more information on individual projects and on our Global Network for Maternal and Infant Health, please see the article "Inside March of Dimes Global Programs".
How severe is the global problem of birth defects and preterm birth?
Every year, 23 million babies worldwide are born prematurely or with a serious birth defect. More than 4.4 million of these die before their 5th birthday and, for those who survive, the majority will be disabled for life. While birth defects and preterm birth affect all countries, the highest numbers are in developing countries where more than 94% of affected births and 95% of the deaths of these children occur. Yet, until recently, premature birth and birth defects were not recognized as public health priorities by international health agencies, national governments or donor organizations. March of Dimes Global Programs is working hard to bring attention to this gap in policy and programs and, with it, our dream that one day all babies everywhere will be born healthy. For more information on the global toll of preterm birth and birth defects and on the steps that need to be taken to reduce this toll, see The March of Dimes Global Report on Birth Defects and The Global and Regional Toll of Preterm Birth.
Where does March of Dimes Global Programs work?
Since its establishment in 1998, March of Dimes Global Programs has conducted partnership projects in 33 countries across Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, South-eastern Europe, Asia and the Western Pacific region. For more information on current projects, please see the article "Inside March of Dimes Global Programs".