Every day 800 women die during childbirth or from pregnancy complications. This startling statistic represents women who not only live in sub-Saharan Africa where most maternal deaths occur but also throughout the world.
In order to reduce the number of maternal deaths in low- and middle-income countries across the globe design teams, social entrepreneurs, innovators, and NGOs are creating innovative ways in which to save more mothers’ lives through inexpensive interventions that are conducive to low resource settings.
In many hospitals and health clinics, for example, power can go out at any moment requiring alternatives that allow health workers workarounds to the perpetual problem of power outages. In these settings, women can also experience life-threatening postpartum hemorrhage that requires immediate attention with interventions that stop bleeding. Additionally, some women do not have the money to afford the items needed during childbirth and innovators are solving those problems as well.
While maternal deaths have fallen 50 percent since 1990, in some countries the maternal mortality rate remains stagnant. Only half of expecting mothers in developing countries receive the health care they need to deliver healthy babies and to survive childbirth.
Below are five innovative interventions that are used in countries where maternal mortality is high in order to make a positive impact on saving mothers’ lives.
- Jhpiego: (Updated, May 11, 2017) While Jhpiego developed a “testing pen” to catch and diagnose eclampsia in its earliest stages the project did not move forward after rigorous testing.
Safe Surgeries: Jhpiego has partnered with the GE Foundation, funder for the Safe Surgery 2020 Initiative, to ensure mothers have access to safe, affordable, life-saving caesarean sections in Ethiopia. With the help and input of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health, Safe Surgery 2020 provides training, leadership skills, and updated procedures for safe surgeries at partner institutions in Ethiopia through implementing partner Jhpiego. The results have seen improved patient care and recovery, fewer surgery backlogs, reduced infections, and a holistic approach to safer surgeries.
- PATH: PATH created an antishock garment that controls postpartum bleeding by applying pressure to the lower body and forcing blood upwards and prevents hemorrhage. Postpartum hemorrhage is the number one cause of maternal deaths.
- PATH: PATH also developed a balloon tamponade to stop uterine bleeding early. While there are other balloon tamponades in the market, they are expensive and inaccessible, especially in the developing world.
- Ayzh: Ayzh produces kits with necessary materials for mothers and newborns living in poverty. These kits provide everything from medicine to clothes for the babies and make their lives that little bit easier.
- WeCareSolar: WeCareSolar provides “solar suitcases” full of lights, mobile communication devices, and medical machinery. This allows those devices to operate in areas without access to electricity.
Art provided by uzuriart.com.
Being passionate about issues – both domestic and global – means taking your activism from the Net to Washington, DC in many cases. Taking your activism to the halls of Congress or even to the halls of your state’s legislature is harder to do for some. Even writing a letter to your representative can be tedious. People are busy and time is tight. Now, there are easier ways to grab the attention of our elected leaders right from our computers from online petitions to emails to our representatives. The problem with e-campaigns is sometimes they are not as effective as when physical letters show up in the mailboxes of our elected representatives. Email is great, but when an actual letter is sent it just means more and will always hold greater sway over our representatives.
This week I tried a new-to-me service called Postagram that conveniently allows you to send a physical postcard to your representative’s office in Washington. Postagram, an app that is housed on Facebook on the web and via mobile, has partnered with the ONE campaign on a new type of letter writing campaign. With a few clicks your physical postcard from Postagram will be sent to DC . I like that your message can be customized on Facebook with a photo you choose as well as personal text for your particularly message.
Many people use Postagram to send personal postcards to friends and family, but this is a new way to use Postagram to a do a little good. If you would like to send a postcard with ONE to Congress to make sure they do not cut life-saving, poverty alleviation programs visit https://apps.facebook.com/postagram/one/selfie.
It was interesting this week to see a slice of the tech scene in Dar es Salaam. We visited KINU which is a collaborative innovation technology space for app developers, startups and those who work in the tech industry to further their learning. KINU also provides tech education for children, an initiative they have been steadily growing.
“If we can teach young kids how to work within a system and process we can actually get them to see problems within our society and begin tackling those problems, said John Paul Barreto, Co-Founder of KINU. “So we didn’t have to look outside to see an explanation about how to make Tanzania better. We can utilize the energy of the Tanzanian youth to change society.”
KINU also makes concerted efforts to involve women in technology as they are largely misrepresented in the technology sector in Africa and the world over for that matter. Hosting “Girls Night Our” events, KINU works to get women in the same room together to explore technology together and to improve their standing in the technology space not only in Dar es Salaam, but also across the continent.
The day we visited KINU a guest lecturer from Canada conducted an animation workshop for roughly fifteen students using Toon Boon animation software. Because these workshops are in such high demand, one Kenyan woman, Naomi, rode a bus 24 hours to learn at KINU and improve her knowledge about technology and animation as she works in the tech sector in Nairobi.
KINU also strives to bring various stakeholders together in order to solve global health problems from maternal health to devising ways to spread the word about family planning through apps.
“We want to bring the different stakeholders together,” said Taha Jiwaji, co-founder of KINU. “Everyone is looking at problems from different standpoints or trying to solve those problems. How can technology enable them is where KINU comes in. A lot of our initiatives are meant to bring these stakeholders together.”
Reporting was made possible through a fellowship from the International Reporting Project.
The answer to this question is yes, but the practical solutions to arm 150 million women in developing nations with a mobile phone isn’t as easy as it seems from the outset, even though the market is vast and ripe for technology.
On a conference call last week with USAID‘s Chief Innovation Officer, Maura O’Neill, and Trina DasGupta, mWomen Program Director for the GSMA, the issues were laid out that prevent most women from owning mobile phones in third-world countries. USAID and mWomen partnered to research the mobile market for women in developing nations and published ‘Portraits: A Glimpse into the Lives of Women at the Base of the Pyramid’. The research was conducted to find out more in-depth knowledge about how women who live on less than $2 a day feel about mobile phone ownership.
GSMA mWomen is aimed at reducing the mobile phone gender gap. Women are 21% less likely to own a mobile phone than men in developing nations. mWomen’s goal is to increase that by 50%.
“If you don’t intentionally look at women they will be unintentionally left behind,” said DasGupta.
The research was conducted in Papua New Guinea, India, Egypt, and Uganda. One reason mobile phone ownership is down is because women in all four countries expressed concerns that their husbands would not approve of them owning mobile phones.
“We learned that it is critically important that when we want to reach women in the mobile market we have to reach the family as a whole,” said DasGupta. “74% of the married women didn’t want to own a mobile phone because their husband wouldn’t allow it.”
Additionally, you have to take into consideration cost as well as access to technology that will keep mobile phones charged. Most of these women live off-the-grid so finding solar technology to charge phones will be another obstacle to get phones into the hands of these women.
Despite the obstacles 73% of the women want to be a part of entrepreneurship. They want to be their own boss and use mobile phones for retail enterprises and as a mobile money solution.