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Kybele Wins Prestigious Saving Lives at Birth Award

Award will be used by the global nonprofit to scale an innovative obstetric triage system that dramatically reduces wait time and improves maternal and neonatal healthcare across Ghana

WASHINGTONSaving Lives at Birth Grand Challenges Canada has awarded Kybele-Ghana $491,480 USD to scale up an innovative triage system to high-risk obstetric hospitals. Funds matched by other contributors will bring the 2 year award sum to $984,069 USD. The Saving Lives at Birth challenge calls on the brightest minds to identify and extend transformative prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns around the globe. Out of 500 applications worldwide, 10 finalists were shortlisted to present their groundbreaking solutions that have the potential to drastically reduce maternal and newborn mortality. Of these, only 4 were selected to move forward to negotiate awards.

The program leverages collective resources of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada (funded by the Government of Canada), UK’s Department of International Development (DFID), and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). Launched in 2011, Saving Lives at Birth is currently in its eighth award round. To date, the Partners have funded 115 innovative tools and approaches, aiming to address the 303,000 maternal deaths, 2.7 million neonatal deaths, and 2.6 million stillbirths that occur each year.

According to the World Health Organization, Ghana has approximately 319 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, a rate thirteen times higher than in the US. While institutional delivery is proposed as a method for reducing poor pregnancy outcomes, few initiatives address the long delays women face when arriving at the hospital. In Ghana, childbirth facilities operate a first-come, first-serve system, leading to treatment delays that sometimes take days for women who present with dangerous conditions such as haemorrhage and pre-eclampsia.


“Maternal mortality rates in regional hospitals are two to three times higher than the national average,” said Dr. Medge Owen, the project lead and Founder of Kybele. “That is why we developed our successful pilot program at The Greater Accra Regional Hospital, one of Ghana’s largest birthing facilities. The funding will allow us to scale this work across Ghana and with the goal of saving lives.”


Kybele designed the obstetric triage system to reduce waiting time and prioritize treatment for high-risk obstetric patients and neonates. The program was developed by a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, implementation scientists and Ghana Health Service leaders to ensure that the clinical innovation was integrated into the health system and was acceptable to local staff.  At the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, performing 7,000-8,000 births per year, patient waiting time from arrival to evaluation decreased from 40 minutes to 5 minutes with improved treatment strategies.

This award will allow Kybele to scale the pilot to other high-volume referral hospitals across Ghana with the goal of creating independent, self-supporting obstetric triage systems. The program will ensure rapid assessment for all women, prompt prioritization of women at risk, and the establishment of risk-appropriate, evidence-based high quality care plans.  Kybele-Ghana estimates the funding from Saving Lives at Birth will allow them to reach at least 300 clinicians and over 60,000 pregnant women and newborns. In addition to Dr. Owen, an obstetric anesthesiologist at Wake Forest School of Medicine, other project leaders include Dr. Rohit Ramaswamy, a quality improvement and implementation specialist at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC Chapel Hill, Dr. Emmanuel Srofenyoh, Medical Director of the Greater Accra Regional Hospital and Dr. Fiona Bryce, obstetrician gynecologist from Richmond, North Yorkshire, England. Five years post-project, the organization expects maintenance of improved obstetric triage practices under local leadership.


About Kybele

Kybele-Ghana is the Ghanaian arm of Kybele—a global leader in health system strengthening, internationally recognized for improving the quality and safety of healthcare during childbirth in low- and middle-income countries. Kybele teams consist of medical experts in anesthesiology, obstetrics, and neonatology and implementation scientists. We establish partnerships with health ministries and local leaders to develop innovative, cost-effective solutions to healthcare problems. Our rigorous approach has been chronicled in over 25 peer-reviewed publications. Since its formation in 2001, Kybele has successfully implemented multifaceted programs with sustained impact in 13 countries in Africa and Eastern Europe with over $4 million of support from governments, institutions, and foundations and in partnership with Novant Health. Kybele is based in Winston-Salem, NC. Visit to learn more.

For more information, please contact

Erin Pfeiffer


Grants Manager

[email protected]