New partnership aims to prevent preterm birth in Ethiopia

(ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, August 2, 2016)An innovative, five-year project launched today in Amhara to address preterm birth, the leading cause of death in children under five globally. Working closely with the Government of Ethiopia,Born On Time brings together expertise and resources from World Vision, the Government of Canada and Johnson & Johnson.

As Ethiopia’s first initiative to prioritizeprograms topreventpreterm birth, Born On Time is targetingrisk factors relating to:

·         unhealthy lifestyles/behaviours (e.g. early marriage, gender-based violence, poor hygiene and sanitation and excessive workloads during pregnancy)

·         maternal infections (e.g. syphilis, malaria)

·         inadequate maternal nutrition

·         limited access to safe, reliable contraception (e.g. teenage pregnancy, birth spacing of less than 6 months).

Born On Time will take a comprehensive approach to improve access to and uptake of quality health services in North Gonder, South Gonder and West Gojam zones of Amhara region.  Activities will reach women before, during and between pregnancies with interventions to prevent preterm birth, and help parents care for babies born prematurely (before 37 weeks of gestation). This strategy also involves empowering women and adolescent boys and girls, as well as engaging men and other family members to tackle barriers that can impact maternal and newborn health.

While World Vision is leading the Born On Time effort in Ethiopia, the initiative is also rolling out in Bangladesh and Mali, where similar programs will be implemented by PLAN International Canada and Save the Children respectively. In total, Born On Time is funded through a $20 million (CAD) contribution from the Government of Canada, and an additional $10 million (CAD) from Johnson & Johnson.


“Every mother deserves a healthy pregnancy, and every newborn should have a chance to thrive. Preterm birth is now the leading cause of death in children under five globally, having silently surpassed malaria, diarrhea and measles. To save lives, we must start focusing on why babies are born too soon,” Alex Whitney, Acting National Director, World Vision Ethiopia.

“The Government of Canada is proud to partner with World Vision and Johnson & Johnson on this initiative to prevent preterm births in Ethiopia. Canada will continue to actively work with our partners to maintain momentum around an integrated approach to the health and rights of women and children and closing existing gaps in access to sexual and reproductive health services and information.” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie.

“At Johnson & Johnson, we believe that communities hold the answers to healthy pregnancies and healthy newborns,” said Joy Marini, Executive Director, Johnson & Johnson. “We are proud to invest in Born on Time, which is tackling the challenge of reducing preterm birth in a new way, engaging every level of the health system from the government to the individual.”


  • Preterm birth is the single greatest cause of under-five mortality, accounting for 18 per cent of all deaths globally (UNICEF).
  • In Ethiopia preterm birth is a direct contributing factor in 28% per cent of newborn deaths.
  • Globally, approximately 15 million babies are born preterm (before 37 completed weeks of gestation) each year, and this number is rising (WHO).



For further information interview request please contact

Meron Aberra, Communication Manager, World Vision Ethiopia
Cell: +251-911-221060

Every mother deserves a healthy, full term pregnancy, and every newborn should have a chance to thrive. Born On Time is the first public-private partnership to focus on programs to prevent preterm birth, the leading cause of mortality in children under five years globally.  Working closely with local governments and community stakeholders, Born On Time brings together expertise and resources from World Vision, Plan International Canada, Save the Children, the Government of Canada and Johnson & Johnson.With a focus in three countries (Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Mali), the initiative supports the Sustainable Development Goals for newborn survival (SDG 3.2) and empowering women and girls (SDG 5).  For more information, visit