Dina, age 27, delivered her first baby Diandra at an Indonesian hospital in Central Java. Hospital staff kept Diandra away from her mother in the newborn care unit and fed her formula until they deemed Dina ready and strong enough to feed the baby. Diandra fell sick with severe diarrhea and died at the hospital ten short days later.

Each year, more than 80,000 newborn babies die in Indonesia within the first month of life from treatable conditions, the most common of which are prematurity, low birth weight, birth asphyxia, and neonatal sepsis.

“Every family has a sad story about a baby or mother they know who lost their life from complications during pregnancy, delivery or immediately after child birth. Many attribute the deaths to God’s will but with the right technology, equipment, and training for health care professionals, it can be stopped,” said Evodia Iswandi, Jhpiego deputy director for provincial operations in Indonesia. “Good hospital administration and policies can also go a long way to enable staff to work at their full technical capabilities.”

Through Expanding Maternal and Neonatal Survival (EMAS), a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) – funded program in Indonesia, local health care providers receive training from one of Indonesia’s premier maternal and child hospital and other organizations on best practices in neonatal and maternity emergency services. Hospitals and community health centers learn how to prevent and treat hemorrhaging, premature delivery, low birth weight, high blood pressure, birth asphyxia, and other causes of death. USAID’s EMAS program also helps reform Indonesia’s referral system so that mothers and babies get to the right place, at the right time, in order to receive the right medical treatment.

“USAID is partnering with Muhammadiyah, one of the largest and most respected Islamic organizations in Indonesia committed to diversity and pluralism, to save lives and sustain EMAS even after the program ends,” said USAID/Indonesia Mission Director Glenn Anders.

Muhammadiyah is a Muslim faith-based organization with 30 million members and a network of universities, health care facilities, orphanages, and socially-responsible businesses. Muhammadiyah and its sister network Aisyiyah provide health care services at 350 private hospitals and maternity wards throughout Indonesia, all of which will incorporate elements of the EMAS program.

Muhammadiyah’s expertise and strong connection to Muslim communities further promote adoption of the EMAS strategies throughout Indonesia. Muhammadiyah’s involvement in the EMAS program helps increases adoption of better health practices and technology by health care professionals, strengthens referral strategies, and improves accountability and transparency in clinical governance.

“One of the greatest tragedies is losing a newborn baby or mother from preventable medical complications. By working in close partnership with the Indonesian Ministry of Health and local partners and experts like Muhammadiyah, EMAS is poised to achieve a 25 percent reduction in both maternal and newborn mortality by 2016,” added Anders.

USAID’s EMAS program is implemented by Jhpiego in partnership with Research Triangle Inc., Save the Children, Muhammadiyah and Budi Kemuliaan Health Foundation.