News Release

Helping Babies Breathe and Mothers Survive in Nepal


Ang “Anji” Jangmu Sherpa is a woman on a mission.  The native of Lukla in eastern Nepal is a nurse midwife committed to improving the survival rates for mothers and babies in remote areas in Nepal where services are limited and mortality rates are high. 

“Maternal mortality overall in Nepal is 231 deaths in 100,000 deliveries,” Anji explained.  “In some rural areas, it’s over 500 per 100,000 because of the lack of facilities, transportation, trained professionals, and weather conditions.”

After earning a BN degree in nursing, Anji was introduced to Helping Babies Breath (HBB) and Helping Mothers Survive Bleeding After Birth (HMS) and received training through Latter-day Saint Charities (LDSC), the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints. 

Inspired by her own mother’s experience of losing all but three of her eleven children as infants, Anji travels all over rural eastern Nepal to train nurses, paramedics and midwives on techniques to save babies and mothers. 

It’s the stories of births gone wrong that have motivated Anji to work for change. 

While working in Sotang, a village in the Solukhumbu District of eastern Nepal, she learned of a family who lost both mother and baby.  “They came to the birthing center with complications,” she recalls, “and needed to go to another center to get a C-section, but the family was too poor to go.  There was no road, it was a two day walk.  They needed to call a helicopter.  The family went door to door for money.  They got some money to call but it was too late.  By the time the helicopter arrived, the mother and baby had died.  The family had to pay anyway.”

“I was crying with the family,” she continued.  “I think a woman should not die like that.  She left other children. When I hear these stories, I feel so helpless.”

With the help of techniques and equipment, HHB and HMS, outcomes can be changed. Anji recalled another experience she had while conducting training in the small mountain village of Gudel, a six hour hike from Sotang.

“On the second day of training, a woman arrived around noon, in labor with her second child,” she recalls. “I assumed that she would deliver her baby by the evening.  She was fully dilated around 11 p.m., but the baby would not come. Around midnight the baby’s heart rate started dropping.  He was not doing well.  I was getting worried.

“The baby emerged at 1 a.m., not breathing; I suctioned him with a bulb suction and cut the umbilical cord immediately, then shifted him to a resuscitation table and started resuscitation with bag and mask. A few minutes passed until he started crying. We were exhausted but relieved at the sound of a crying baby. The next morning, I had to leave for training in another village.”

“On a follow-up survey in that village eight months later, I saw the mother bathing the baby we saved. He was healthy and chubby and the image almost brought a tear in my eye. I do not believe I could get this sense of satisfaction from any other kind of work.”  

LDSC partners with NGO Safa Sunaulo Nepal to provide instruction for Master Trainers like Anji.  It also supplies equipment and training materials.  LDSC has been sponsoring HBB since 2012, and it has been accepted by Nepal as the official protocol.  HMS was added to the training in November 2018 and has also been recognized by the Ministry of Health of Nepal and the National Health Training Center. LDSC provides training to medical personnel around the world in an effort to decrease the deaths of newborns and their mothers.

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