Colorado named a WHO collaborating center

By Staff

The maternal and child health division within the Colorado School of Public Health’s Center for Global Health was designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a WHO Collaborating Center for Promoting Family and Child Health. The division, which is a partnership between Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado School of Medicine, is one of only two programs in the Americas to receive this designation in maternal and child health.

“This designation means that the center will be more actively engaged in developing transformational maternal and child health interventions and programs which can then be taken to a global scale,” said Stephen Berman, M.D., center director and CU School of Medicine professor of pediatrics and public health.

With the new designation, the center’s maternal and child health division will focus on four major program outcomes in partnership with the WHO and its regional affiliate, the Pan American Health Organization:

  • Assist countries in reducing health inequality and excessive morbidity and mortality among mothers, infants, children and adolescents;
  • Accelerate vaccine research and implementation;
  • Train vulnerable communities and countries in disaster preparedness in ways that will meet the needs of children; and
  • Train doctors, nurses, midwives and other birth attendants in the Helping Babies Breathe program, to reduce neonatal asphyxia.

Although the WHO designation is new, the division’s faculty have a long-standing involvement improving health outcomes for mothers and children around the world.

“World-class children’s hospitals extend their efforts to support the health of women and children all over the world. We’re proud that our faculty members have been major architects of several programs developed in partnership with WHO that have and are being implemented world-wide,” said Jim Shmerling, DHA, FACHE, Children’s Colorado President and CEO.

The center’s maternal and child health division is co-directed by Eric Simoes, M.D., professor of pediatrics, and Susan Niermeyer, M.D., MPH, professor of pediatrics. Senior investigators include Edwin J. Asturias, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, and Gretchen Heinrichs, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology. Among the division’s most recent program activities is the center’s first Pan-American Vaccine Safety Summit, held May 10-11 on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. For additional information on the center and division of maternal and child health, visit