We deliver long lasting systemic change
"The Dalai Lama asked me to help the women and children in Tibet. His Holiness' own mother had seen only seven of her sixteen children survive to adulthood."
- Arlene Samen, Founder and CEO of One Heart World-Wide
Arlene Samen, a nurse practitioner with over 30 years’ experience in high-risk obstetrics at the University of Utah Health Science Center, had a life-changing encounter with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, in 1997. At the time, one in ten Tibetan newborns and one in hundred Tibetan pregnant women died during childbirth. His Holiness’ own mother had seen only seven of her sixteen children survive to adulthood. The Dalai Lama asked Arlene to help the women and children in Tibet. There was no turning back for Arlene after that initial meeting. She gave up her clinical practice to dedicate her life to serving pregnant women living under the most vulnerable conditions and in the most remote places of the world.
Arlene Samen had a life-changing encounter with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, in 1997
Arlene founded One H.E.A.R.T. (Health Education and Research in Tibet), a non-profit organization working with the local community to understand the plight of pregnant women and newborns. She set out to understand the local traditions, and religious and cultural beliefs of women giving birth in Tibet and developed a culturally sensitive, comprehensive and collaborative model to reduce the risk of maternal and infant mortality. Her mission was to train local health providers, community members, families and mothers in safe birthing practices, and to provide them with a safe and clean place to give birth.
Between 1999 and 2009, One H.E.A.R.T. piloted a unique community-based healthcare delivery model in Tibet. Over these ten years, One H.E.A.R.T. successfully developed what is today called the Network of Safety model, a culturally sensitive maternal and newborn program from the village level through the secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities. One H.E.A.R.T. was able to decrease unattended home births from 85% to 20%, mostly by ensuring the presence of a Skilled Birth Attendant at delivery. In 2008, in the two counties where One H.E.A.R.T was working, the Lhasa Prefecture Health Bureau reported no maternal deaths and newborn death rates dropped from 10% to 3%. In 2009, One H.E.A.R.T. stepped out of Tibet and turned over their program to the local Tibetan team, who registered themselves as a non-governmental organization. To this day, our Tibetan team successfully continues their work with local resources.
The long-term sustainability and demonstrated success of the Network of Safety model led Arlene to expand the operations to other sites in need. In 2010, One H.E.A.R.T. expanded to a global scale as One Heart World-Wide (OHW), a 501(c)3 organization providing on-the-ground training in maternal and neonatal health, and moved its operations to Nepal. In collaboration with a team of international experts in maternal and neonatal health, Arlene refined the unique One H.E.A.R.T. program into a simple, effective, replicable and sustainable model, the Network of Safety. By the end of 2015 the maternal and neonatal mortality were significantly reduced in Baglung and Dolpa, our two pilot districts in Nepal. Today, Baglung reports zero maternal deaths, and Dolpa reports a reduction of 97% in maternal mortality. OHW is implementing its program in five districts in Nepal, and planning to continue adding another two to four districts each year. In addition, over the last 5 years, OHW has successfully shared the Network of Safety with several other organizations around the world. We have provided technical assistance to programs in China, Ecuador, Liberia, Mexico and Peru.
One Heart World-Wide continues on its path to bring the Network of Safety to scale and support women and newborns throughout Nepal and globally.