Today a new bipartisan bill, The Reach Every Mother and Child Act, was introduced to the Senate by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Chris Coons (D-Del). The Reach Every Mother and Child Act will build upon decades-old work of the United States being a leader on drastically reducing maternal, newborn, and child mortality. In fact, this new bill will help save the lives of 15 million children and 600,000 women by 2020.
Driving around Africa in both congested cities and sparsely-populated rural towns you will see that most people carry a mobile phone in plain sight, countless signs for mobile providers can be seen at nearly every turn, and “top up” guys scout out customers who are in constant need of more mobile minutes. Mobile is here to stay in Africa and so are mobile apps. In fact, there are now over 600 million mobile users on the continent and an increasing crop of new mobile companies creating apps for a populace ripe for innovative mobile technology.
Mobile health apps, in particular, are steadily becoming mainstays of Africans’ mobile health care. Free and easy-to-use, these mobile apps are educating Africans on ways to stay healthy and are providing simple access to health facilities and frontline health workers.
Maternal health mobile apps are one way the tech sector is hoping to reduce the number of maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa where the maternal mortality ratios are the highest. Here are five mobile apps that saving mothers’ lives in Africa.
We are excited to launch our Maternal Health Heroes Summer Series with an interview with H.E. Mrs. Toyin Saraki, founder of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa. Throughout the summer we will speak with some of the most notable maternal health advocates in the world ahead of the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference that will be held in Mexico City between October 18 – 21, 2015. Follow the conversation at #MHHSS.
When did you know global maternal health was a bigger issue than you previously realized?
I became aware of the serious issues surrounding maternal health and survival over 20 years ago, when I gave birth to twins in Nigeria. I tragically lost one of my twin babies during childbirth, and then had to fight for the survival of the other. Even though I was an educated and informed woman, I was unable to save the life of my stillborn second twin daughter because of the infrastructural deficiencies in Nigeria’s healthcare system at the time, including a fatal delay in finding an anesthetist for an emergency C-section. Although I was grateful to leave this painful experience with my first twin and my own life, I realized that this experience is an unavoidable reality for many women in Nigeria, and indeed across the world.
Globally, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every day, and 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries. And, where a mother suffers, her child suffers; and more than 3 million babies die before they are a month old. I founded the Wellbeing Foundation Africa to help address this heartbreaking issue that affects so many women and children. At first, my view was much more localized and I did not know all of these global statistics and the injustice that was taking place on a daily basis; but now it is these statistics, and the real life stories behind the statistics, that spur me on to continue every day.
These trainees are at a project known as “Connecting 1,500 Women and Girls to the Export Market”. The project was created in 2014 by Ethiopia’s First Lady, Mrs. Roman Tesfaye and trains women and girls to develop skills in industries such as leather, weaving, basketry, embroidery, gemstones, and spinning and connect them to global markets to increase the trade of their goods.
“Ethiopia has ambitious visions and dreams for women,” said First Lady Tesfaye. “We want to see women not only come out from the shackles of poverty but become the engines and drivers of our development.”
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon visited the project during the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa.