In June 2018, the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance (APBPA) was established with a singular goal, to safely lower the rate of preterm birth across Australia.
The Alliance is playing a central role in identifying, implementing and evaluating prevention strategies to reduce rates of preterm birth in each state and territory.
The early success of The Whole Nine Months program through the Women & Infants Research Foundation, as reported nationally in November 2016, led to a successful NHMRC application to extend the WA initiative and roll out various versions of the program across our two most populous states – New South Wales and Victoria.
A decision was then made by key representatives from each state and territory to apply the partnership across the nation as a whole. The challenge was always to work out how to expand the effectiveness and translate the program into other health care environments.
This is now being done by bringing together clinical leaders, health departments and communities to adapt, modify and tailor the existing WA initiative for introduction and implementation in each state and territory, joined together in a single alliance.
The alliance is playing a central role in identifying prevention strategies that are effective and feasible for our health care system, assisting with implementation for our various communities, evaluating the benefits of their introduction, identifying appropriate research priorities and mentoring the next generation of thought leaders.
As the world’s first such national program, the Alliance will also play an important role in facilitating the development of preterm birth prevention strategies overseas and partnering with the many potential agencies active in this important area of healthcare.
Every healthcare practitioner who works in the field of reproduction has a role to play in our goal to prevent early birth.
The joint collaboration will use methods that have been successfully employed by hospitals around the globe for over 25 years.
Chair of the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance, Professor John Newnham AM, pointed to the Collaborative as being a truly national force aiming to strategically lower the rate of preterm birth.
“The National Collaborative aims to safely reduce preterm and early term birth across Australia by 20% through supporting hospitals in the adoption of evidence-based changes in clinical care,” Professor Newnham said.
Miracle Babies Foundation’s CEO and CoFounder, Kylie Pussell is excited to be part of the Westmead Hospital team in the collaborative. Kylie brings her own personal experience with cervical incompetence, her journey through premature birth and the NICU, together with voices of parents across Australia keen to help and see improvements. “The screening for a short cervix being implemented is one way we can earlier identify mothers at risk of delivering their baby preterm. Having been through this trauma and years of surgeries and interventions it’s a great step forward to now offer this to expectant mother’s much earlier where risk factors are identified. This work has the potential to significantly lower preterm births and help many families avoid the trauma and heartbreak of premature birth and grief.”
Miracle Babies Foundation NurtureProgram Service Manager, Tina Parker, also with her own experience of preterm birth is a consumer representative for the Campbelltown Hospital team on the project. Tina said “It’s such a privilege to be part of this project and help reduce the number of preterm births. Families that can then hopefully go on to a full term pregnancy and be able to start their new family at home and avoid the medical and emotional time of extended hospital stays.”
WHA Chief Executive Officer, Dr Barbara Vernon, said that more than 60 hospitals across Australia are now involved in the National Collaborative.
“Australia has pockets of excellence for safely reducing early birth, however wide scale adoption across all health services has yet to occur,” Dr Vernon said.
“This model is designed to do just this and help organisations close the gap between what we know, what we do, and ultimately, prevent preterm birth and it’s far reaching impacts.”
During the Collaborative, participating hospital teams will be supported to accelerate their learning and develop reliable systems to ensure all women are offered the care and public health information that is known to reduce early birth. Teams will also be able to share their learnings with each other across Australia.
The National Preterm Birth Prevention Collaborative is being funded by the Commonwealth Government through the Women & Infants Research Foundation.
To find out more visit https://www.pretermalliance.com.au/Our-Research/Breakthrough-Collaborative
To register your interest to support the collaborative and offer your family story to help raise awareness of premature birth in Australia please visit https://www.miraclebabies.org.au/content/submit-family-story/gjlsbk