To paint the current situation in maternal and child health in the developing world, check out this video from Melinda Gates. Please pay special attention to the comments about maternal and newborn health, which is between minute 47 and 57 in the video.
Despite improvements in overall global health in last 50 years, as Melinda mentioned, maternal and newborn health is one area where much more progress needs to be made. Every year, 4 million babies, which is equivalent of 1 in every 32 babies in developing world, are dying within the first 30 days after birth. A half million mothers are dying from giving life to newborns every year, leaving straining impacts on their families and communities left behind. In a country like Ethiopia, 94% of women are still having to deliver at homes without any help of birth attendants.
We have been working to address maternal/child mortality issues in Bangladesh for the past two years. Though the numbers seem daunting, what we learned is that the solution to combat this problem is rather simple and none of it requires new resources that have not been identified already.
Three simple solutions that work!
1. Provide basic health education that’s not currently available in rural areas, due to proper health facility being too far for women to access and receive antenatal and postnatal care. e.g. Simple awareness such as not to wash the baby right after birth because it leads to higher chance of hypothermia and to breastfeed the baby right after birth to build a stronger immune system can be practiced by mothers themselves if right channels can reach them.
2. Provide inexpensive drugs (which costs less than $1) that can prevent hemorrhage, bleeding excessively after birth, which is a leading cause of maternal death.
3. Utilize local health workers and the increasing the number of rural clinics, to bridge the current gap in healthcare services for mothers and newborns in developing countries.
Through our pilot programs, ClickDiagnostics also realizes how important the channel of door-to-door health workers can become in delivering basic medical supplies and health education for pregnant women. We have focused our efforts to designing a mobile health (mHealth) model to further empower these health workers, known as CHWs (community health workers), to provide timely medical care they need. We believe that reengineering a few missing or malfunctioning wheels in the current system can dramatically improve the access to healthcare by mothers in challenging locations.
In the next post, we look forward to telling you Click’s story on how we are working to create a more effective and efficient healthcare for mothers and newborns through equipping CHWs with mobile-phone based information technology!
Photo Gallery: “Fighting Maternal Mortality” (BBC News)