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Preparing for Life

Preparing for Life aims to promote awareness and contributes to the development of programs for preconception care for all women of childbearing ages and their partners, particularly in middle and low-income nations by:  

  • Raising awareness of preventable risks to the health of future parents and children, that need to be addressed before pregnancy.
  • Bringing relevant international stakeholders together.
  • Contributing to global and local awareness and prevention programs to reduce common known risks of adverse health effects for the parents to be, the fetus or neonat.
  • Supporting countries/governments in building vision on the options for preconception care and implementing structural programs.
  • Bringing human and financial resources necessary for the implementation of Preparing for Life activities together.

Therein the ultimate goal of Preparing for Life is to reduce maternal and childhood mortality and morbidity and so to contribute to safe motherhood and the birth of healthy infants with the expectation of healthy longevity. Read more on Preparing for Life-website 

The initiative

Preparing for Life is an initiative of international patients/parent support groups (IGA), scientific institutions and Rotary International. Preparing for Life cannot realize its mission on its own. Preparing for Life aims to bring together international stakeholders to develop strategies and programs for global partnerships focused on the reduction of child mortality by improving pregnancy outcomes through preconceptional programs and to support developing countries to reduce child mortality and morbidity caused by congenital conditions. The latter can only be obtained by engaging all stakeholders: medical care providers, patient representatives, policy makers, governments and the community. Preparing for Life is a joint effort. We welcome other international organisations, governmental bodies, non-governmental organisations, academics, industry and individuals to join us and work towards achieving the goals of Preparing for Life.

The facts 


  • 7,9 million children are born with a serious disorder or disease.
  • 3,3 million of these children under the age 5 die and half of those who survive, have a lifelong intellectual, physical or sensory disability.
  • 30.000 children under age 5 die every day from preventable causes.
  • 20 % of all conceptions does not result in a healthy baby (10% miscarriages, 7% preterm births, 5 % congenital defects or disorders, 1% perinatal deaths).
  •  50–70% of birth disorders is preventable (infrastructure; information/education) (March of Dimes, 2008).


Preparing for Life, though relevant for any country, focuses mainly on preconception care in medium and low income countries. Preconception care includes counselling on medical conditions, genetic factors (hereditary disorders), working conditions, medication and lifestyle (including food, drink, tobacco and other recreational drugs). Preconception care should be tailored to individual parents-to-be, initiated by primary care providers. Some aspects may collectively target all women of child-bearing age. Every country needs its own specific adaption of the Preparing for Life Concept.

Worldwide support

Many international organisations,such as World Health Organization (WHO, Geneva), National Center Birth Defects & Developmental Disabilities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, Atlanta), International Clearinghouse for Birth Defects Surveillance and Research (ICBDSR, Rome), March of Dimes (MOD, New York), Rotary clubs on national and international level, have joined Preparing for Life as partner, collaborator or sympathizer. You can also become a supporter of our initiative, as we are continuously looking for partners who are willing to sponsor us with money, knowledge, services and/or products that support our goals.

Current activities

  • Initiating and supporting collaboration between expert centres in preconception care to develop models, protocols and e-health tools.
  • Encouraging epidemiological studies and disseminating the outcome
  • Building support networks: primary healthcare, medical professional groups, pharmacies, service clubs
  • Organising regional multi stakeholders meetings in the 7 WHO- regions focusing on strategy, implementation and supporting  pre conception care programs on country level
  • Preconception care action programs at country level specially targeted at public, medical and political awareness
  • Supporting the founding of widespread educational facilities focusing on Preparing for Life
  • Involving and mobilising networks such as pharmacies, social media, schools, supermarkets  to contribute by providing information and education
  • International expert summit in The Hague, autumn 2011 to determine the needs (based on epidemiological data), to chart the required knowledge and technologies (evidence based options for prevention and reproductive choices and to build bridges between knowledge and needs.
  • Drawing up a joint awareness and prevention effort/action plan for the promotion and implementation of preconception care worldwide and to present preconception care programs for the WHO- assembly (May 2012)
  • Promoting attendance and dissemination of the outcome of the International Conferences on Birth Defects and Disabilities in a Developing World
  • Organising a global annual multi media awareness marathon
  • Establishing a multi regional virtual PfL- health academy 

Some achievements

  • Organization of an international preparatory conference producing a report presenting the initiative, providing guiding principles, defining strategic aims, drafting an action program and installing various taskgroups (The Hague, 2010).
  • Various collaborations such as with WHO, foundations related to preconception care, pharmacy associations, nutritional industry.
  • Inauguration of an endowed university chair in preconception epidemiology in the Erasmus University in Rotterdam(by Dutch Genetic Alliance VSOP).
  • Setting up of a global network devoted to reduce child mortality, improve women’s and child health and to integrate preconception care in primary healthcare.