Silke Mader

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2014
EFCNI European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants


This profile was prepared when Silke Mader was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2014.
The New Idea
Worldwide, approximately one baby in ten is born preterm. In Europe, about half a million babies are born too early every year. Preterm birth is the leading cause of infant mortality and morbidity and causes enormous medical, psychological and economic consequences. However, even industrialized countries suffer from a lack of infrastructure needed to effectively prevent preterm birth and to take care for preterm and ill born babies from the moment of birth till adult life. Silke Mader intends to overcome these structural failings. Together with her team, she has systematically built a collaborative network of stakeholders who work together to make newborn health a priority with the intention of implementing and improving standards of care, first in Europe and later on hopefully also beyond.

Having worked in the health field on local, national, and international levels, Silke realized that for large-scale change to occur in the health system, three things needed to be achieved. First, affected parents needed to be involved in the day-to-day care quality improvements alongside both, healthcare professionals. Second, resources and players from disparate sectors of society – patients, healthcare experts, researchers, government and health policy specialists, as well as business – needed to be mobilized in order to create overarching solutions. And third, a cross-country dialogue involving both, bottom-up and top-down engagement needed to be sparked in order to achieve the level of legitimacy necessary for systemic reforms. Through her institution, the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (“EFCNI”), Silke successfully pursues all three objectives. Through a guided process, stakeholders from all across Europe actively work together, to create a mutually understood framework of child’s progression from preconception to adulthood. Silke includes business representatives in this process to foster their understanding of the problem and to galvanize their support (both financial and non-financial). She is bringing a new transparency to the field while boosting public awareness and policy reform through international campaigns and the empowerment of parent organizations.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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