The Natalie Collection
A trio of designs to reduce child and maternal mortality

Two of the UN's Millennium Development Goals are to reduce child and maternal mortality by 2015. Norwegian company Laerdal Global Health have developed a trio of highly effective and low cost solutions to do just that. The Natalie Collection is thus designed to save hundreds of thousands of lives.

Every day, 3,000 newborn babies die from birth asphyxia along with 1,000 birthing mothers. The enormity of this is stressed by the fact that it is included in no less than two of the UN's Millennium Development Goals.

In addressing this - in very different and often impoverished communities in developing countries - Laerdal Global Health of Norway took a unique approach and combined industrial design with education when creating INDEX: Award 2013 Winner in the Body Category, The Natalie Collection, a birth simulating learning kit facilitates interactive learning by providing practical hands-on training.

"A pilot would not fly a plane without proper training and flight-simulation. So why should a midwife be any different?"

INDEX: Award jury member Ravi Naidoo says: "A pilot would not fly a plane without proper training and flight-simulation. So why should a midwife be any different?" The Natalie Collection thus offers a trio of needs-based, robust and extremely affordable devices and training solutions addressing just that: They are 'NeoNatalie Suction', 'NeoNatalie Newborn Simulator' and 'MamaNatalie Birthing Simulator' and are all designed to save hundreds of thousands of lives.

The NeoNatalie Suction is a silicone penguin-shaped suction device. It is soft and formidable when accessing baby nostrils effectively and safely and can be easily disinfected, all the while being durable and allowing inspection of the suctioned material due to its transparency. Not to mention inviting and intuitive to use.

The NeoNatalie Newborn Simulator is more than just a mannequin. It only focuses on the important aspects of a baby’s body to provide realism only where it is important. Details such as weight, head articulation, umbilical pulse, as well as the babies’ breath and heartbeat have been simulated as closely as possible, making the subsequent handling of a real-life baby only a minor adjustment.

The Mama Natalie Birthing Simulator is a wearable contraption, which simulates a woman’s womb in a realistic, yet culturally sensitive and inoffensive way. Again, only the most important aspects are focused on and aesthetic details are left out to provide the best training possible without distractions. Also, the simulator is compatible with the use of fake blood in training to deal with post birth bleeding, which is a leading cause of maternal deaths.

This obvious and globally recognizable design amounts to an understandable tool that offers to strengthen and improve any learning situation. INDEX: Award jury member Katinka Von Der Lippe explains: "The Natalie Collection is a low-cost, practical, hands-on training kit for the most important and critical moment in life - when a baby is being born. The company behind it, Laerdal Global Health of Norway, has a great team of designers focusing to help low resource countries significantly to reduce infant, child and maternal mortality and this is a great example of how design can improve life conditions both locally and globally. It has a simple, straightforward approach, which invites participation and teamwork. The learning process becomes more playful, and the learning goes much faster when the midwives or birth assistants are part of a role-play. I think the designers and developers at Laerdal understood that the closer to the real situation the training becomes, the more natural the newfound knowledge stays with the midwifes. Since the Natalie Collection is based on practical involvement, language barriers have little impact on the learning process."

"The Natalie Collection is a low-cost, practical, hands-on training kit for the most important and critical moment in life - when a baby is being born."

The INDEX: Award jury also rewards the fact that The Natalie Collection has already had a large proven impact. For example, the widespread implementation of efficient training with the Helping Babies Breathe training program, while using the NeoNatalie collection equipment in Tanzania has resulted shown in a 47% reduction in newborn death due to asphyxia. An impact which the jury is confident will grow exponentially in the years to come.

Use of award money
Laerdal Global Health will donate the €100,000 INDEX: Award prize money to the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) in support of distribution of the Helping Mothers Survive and Helping Babies Breathe training programs among its members in developing countries.

Helping Babies Breathe is an initiative of the American Academy of Pediatrics in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), US Agency for International Development (USAID), Saving Newborn Lives, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and a number of other global health organizations. It is a neonatal resuscitation curriculum for resource-limited circumstances. A Global Public-Private Development Alliance has been formed between USAID, NICHD, Save the Children, AAP and Laerdal to facilitate implementation of HBB and thereby scaling up lifesaving newborn care around the world. (

Helping Mothers Survive is a complementary program introduced in 2012. It was developed by Jhpiego (an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University) in collaboration with AAP, ICM, UNFPA, FIGO, Laerdal and others. The program was developed to ensure that birth attendants are equipped with the essential and life-saving skills to manage postpartum hemorrhage.