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Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

On November 15th, Maternova, an organization that conducts continuous research into the latest innovations impacting maternal and newborn health, featured the “paperless partogram” on their blog. The blog post explains that for the past thirty years, the partogram has been the recommended practice for preventing prolonged labor in low-resource settings–but it seems that not all health workers find it to be an appropriate tool for the contexts in which they work.

Maternova

“…The partograph is a low-cost tool for saving the lives of mothers and babies. But does that mean it is an appropriate tool? Dr. A. K. Debdas of India would say no. Even after the WHO simplified the partograph model to make it more user-friendly in 2000, the partograph is still rarely used in low-resource areas, and, when actually used, it is rarely interpreted correctly (2). Debdas argues that the WHO’s partograph fails to meet the organization’s own requirements for appropriate technology: the partograph has not been adapted to local needs, is not acceptable to those who use it, and cannot be used given the available resources. Debdas believes the partograph is simply too time-consuming for overburdened clinicians and too complicated for many skilled birth attendants—many of whom have not received higher education.

Dr. Debdas proposes a new, low-skill method for preventing prolonged labor—the paperless partogram. It takes 20 seconds, requires only basic addition and the reading of a clock or watch, and holds potential for more effectively mobilizing clinicians to prevent prolonged labor. Appropriate on all counts…”

Click here to read the full post on the Maternova blog and learn how the “paperless partogram” works!

And while you are on the Maternova site, be sure to check out the Health Innovations page. I found the “Baby Bubbles” and the “Salad Spinner Centrifuge for Anemia” particularly interesting…

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I attended a press conference yesterday (6/17) where Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth announced the 16 winners of the Young Champions for Maternal Health competition. The 16 Young Champions come from 13 different countries and will be placed with Ashoka Fellows around the world for a 9-month mentorship.

Excerpt from my post on the MHTF Blog:

“…Tim Thomas explained that improving global maternal health is a persistent challenge—and one that will need to be tackled via multiple sectors. Tim pointed out that the Young Champions have big and innovative ideas for improving maternal health—and that the Ashoka Fellows will play a crucial role in teaching the Champions about social entrepreneurship, building sustainable infrastructure, and how to ‘scale-up’ global health projects—so that their big ideas can result in real and lasting impact.

A big idea is precisely what Yeabsira Mehari has—and she looks forward to tapping into Glory Alexander’s wisdom to develop the idea. Yeabsira aspires to set up a fistula care center in Ethiopia that will address both the health needs of the women affected by fistula as well as the economic and socio-cultural effects of fistula. Her dream is to establish a fistula care center that will prepare women to be social entrepreneurs themselves–by providing them with midwifery training and/or small business development training as well as offering micro-loans to get their businesses off the ground.

Ashoka India Fellow Glory Alexander works to end stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS in India. Her organization, ASHA Foundation, focuses on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS and primary prevention for vulnerable women.   Aside from learning about social entrepreneurship, sustainability, and ‘scale-up’, Yeabsira is excited to work with Glory to develop expertise in engaging with and helping to empower stigmatized populations. She anticipates that many of the lessons she will learn from working with HIV/AIDS patients in India will be transferable to working with fistula patients in Ethiopia…”

Read my full post on the MHTF Blog.

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently announced the Secretary’s Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. This award aims to enable individuals and organizations to develop new and sustainable ways to empower women and girls around the world.  Two winners will be selected and each will receive a grant of up to $500,000.

Excerpt from the (6/14) USA Today blog post about the award:

“The award, which is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation for three years, is open to both men and women who are ‘working on innovative approaches to the political, economic and social empowerment of women and girls around the globe,’ the award’s news release states. The prize? Two lucky recipients each year will receive a grant of up to $500,000 to help expand the scope of their idea…”

Read more.

Excerpt from the call for concept papers:

“The Secretary’s Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls seeks to find and bring to scale the most pioneering approaches to the political, economic and social empowerment of women and girls around the globe. Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the award is part of the State Department’s continuing emphasis on public-private partnerships, and is administered by its Office of Global Women’s Issues. The award, and the office, are founded on the premise that the major economic, security, governance and environmental challenges of our time cannot be solved without the full participation of women at all levels of society. The Rockefeller Foundation, as part of its mission to expand opportunity and promote more equitable growth, seeks to identify innovative approaches that can be scaled to address these challenges…”

Read more.

Click here to view the video of the official launch of the award—with speeches by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and President of the Rockefeller Foundation, Judith Rodin.

If you are interested, act now! Concept papers are due June 21st! Papers must be submitted to SGWIRFPInnovation@state.gov.

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Tuesday (6/8) marked day two of Women Deliver 2010. Day two was all about innovation and (high and low) technology to improve the health of women and infants worldwide–in fact, the conference organizers marketed Tuesday’s sessions as a stand-alone symposium called Technology as a Catalyst for Social Transformation.

Take a look at two examples of technologies that were discussed at the conference on Tuesday…

Microbicide Vaginal Rings (High Tech)

“The nonprofit International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) today announced the initiation of the first trial among women in Africa testing a vaginal ring containing an antiretroviral drug (ARV) that could one day be used to prevent HIV transmission during sex. The clinical trial, known as IPM 015, tests the safety and acceptability of an innovative approach that adapts a successful technology from the reproductive health field to give women around the world a tool to protect themselves from HIV infection…”

Read the full press release here.

Clean Delivery Kits (Low Tech)

Clean Birth Kits–Potential to Deliver?, a publication supported by Save the Children/Saving Newborn Lives, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Immpact (University of Aberdeen), and the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth, was released at a session at Women Deliver yesterday. The session was chaired by Claudia Morrissey of Save the Children; moderated by Richard Horton, Editor of the Lancet; and presenters included Wendy Graham of University of Aberdeen, and Haris Ahmed of PAIMAN. The goal of the session was to summarise the evidence base for clean delivery kits, discuss practical implementation experiences from the field, and to have a lively debate on the “risks” associated with promoting birth kits. The report will be available online soon.

Subscribe to the MHTF Blog for updates on this project/report–as well as updates on other MHTF projects and commentary on a variety of maternal health issues.

Check out a recent blog post, A Good Idea or an Expensive Diversion: Workshop on the Evidence Base for Clean Birth Kits, by Ann Blanc, Director of the Maternal Health Task Force, on a workshop leading up to the new report on delivery kits.

Click here for the webcast of a session at Women Deliver 2010 that explores “What’s on the Horizon” for new technologies in contraception.

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Kaiser Health News reports on a variety of innovative approaches to global health challenges that were developed in developing countries like Haiti and Nigeria–and are now being utilized in developed countries. Dr. Michael Merson, director of the Duke Global Health Institute, explains that in the past, development work was seen as a one way street, with the rich helping the poor.  He points out that these days have passed and we are entering a new era of international development that involves a “true sense of shared partnership.” This article highlights several global health innovations developed in resource poor settings that are now being adopted in the US, like Kangaroo Care.

Kaiser Health News

“…GE is tapping into the increasingly popular idea that medical innovation should be a global two-way street in which the West benefits from the resourcefulness and frugality poorer nations apply to health problems. The idea isn’t new, but it’s gaining traction, beyond the creation of products and technology, as public health experts rethink ways to prevent disease and deliver care…

…’Kangaroo care,’ an approach developed in Colombia, is another example. With a major shortage of incubators, doctors advised mothers to cradle preterm babies in a sling. They did so well that it changed what had been the conventional approach in the U.S….”

Read the full story here.

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Round 5 of the Grand Challenges Explorations Initiative is focused on New Technologies to Improve the Health of Mothers and Newborns.

MHTF Blog

“…The goal of the initiative is to foster innovation in global health research. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports this initiative and will make initial grants of $100,000–and successful projects will have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to $1 million…

…This is the first GCE topic focused entirely on maternal and neonatal health. The goal is to solicit novel and innovative technologies to reduce maternal, fetal or neonatal mortality and morbidity…”

For more information on the Grand Challenges Explorations Initiative–including information on how to apply–read the full post on the MHTF Blog here.

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There are only seven days left to enter the competition! March 17th, 2010, is the deadline to apply to be a Young Champion of Maternal Health.

Ashoka Changemakers and the Maternal Health Task Force


Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force will select 16 individual Young Champions of Maternal Health. Based on their winning submissions, these Young Champions will receive the unique opportunity to work abroad for nine-months on a maternal health project, mentored by an Ashoka Fellow innovating in the field of maternal health. In addition to this professional development opportunity, Young Champions will have access to maternal health experts through the Maternal Health Task Force and resources to further develop their ideas and projects. All Young Champions will receive a monthly stipend and 100% financial support for travel, accommodation, insurance, and visa costs. Ideas and projects emerging from the Young Champions Program will be publicized widely.”

Learn more about this opportunity here.

To learn about the related blogging contest, click here. (Due date for blogging contest is April 28th, 2010.)

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Five recent stories published on the site have raised various issues impacting maternal health—including leadership and innovation, maternal death audits, access to primary health care and safe delivery, human rights, and even a proposal for a separate maternal health ministry.

allAfrica.com

Namibia: Leadership Development, Social Innovation and Improved System Performance

The Maternal Health Initiative Team,  an offshoot of the African Public Health Leadership and Systems Innovation Initiative, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is “developing a model for improving public health leadership and system performance.”

“…The project is underpinned by three principles: local leadership development, social innovation and improved system performance.

The initiative applies a business-consulting approach called the Innovation Lab. Through the Innovation Lab, multi-stakeholder teams are guided through an intensive leadership development and problem-based learning experience. The aim is to tackle a complex social and system problem through a multi-stakeholder and innovation response.

When deciding on a priority health problem to tackle as a pilot, it wasn’t hard for Namibian health leaders to choose maternal health. Between 2000 and 2006, maternal mortality jumped to 449 deaths per 100 000 births, an increase of 178 deaths…”

Read the full article,  Namibia:Health Authorities Tackle Maternal Mortality.

Rwanda: A Call for Maternal Death Audits

“…As a strategic move to curb the maternal death rate further and achieve millennium development goal 5, the government recently extended the fight to the village level.

This was announced recently by the Minister of Health, Dr. Richard Sezibera, during a meeting that was held with a visiting US medical team to discuss Rwanda’s health progress.

During the discussions, Sezibera noted that it was imperative to engage the community in fighting maternal death rates so that leaders at the village level can identify the causes of these deaths in bid to find a lasting solution.

‘This year we started maternal death audits in villages because we believe that social audits on death causes will enable authorities identify answers to this problem,’ the minister said…”

Read the full article, Rwanda: Maternal Mortality Control Extends to Village Level.

Nigeria: Improving Access to Primary Health Care and Safe Delivery

“Health System Development Project II, a World Bank assisted project has commissioned two Comprehensive Primary Health Centres at Dagiri community in Gwagwalada and Dabi village at Kwali.

The Health Centres are to address the high rate of maternal and child mortality cases in the country, said Mrs Anne Okigbo-fisher, World Bank task team leader during the hand over ceremony of the centres. She said Nigeria records 10 percent of the world’s maternal mortality rates out of the 524,000 women that die yearly during child birth, adding that approximately 99 percent of the mortality rate is due to child birth complications in developing countries.

According to her the objective of HSDP II is to reduce such complications and improve safe delivery in the country…”

Read the full article, Nigeria: World Bank Commissions N104 Million Hospitals in Abuja.

Kenya: Human Rights Impacting Maternal Health

Amnesty International calls on Kenya’s Parliament to ensure that the draft Constitution of Kenya upholds respect for, the protection and fulfilment of all human rights. The draft Constitution should retain social and economic rights as enforceable rights. In addition, the organization also calls on Parliament to remove the provision stipulating that the right to life begins at conception and if the article on abortion access is retained, provide for abortion for rape victims…

…If the Constitution explicitly limits women’s access to abortion services, it must, at least ensure women’s access to safe and timely abortion services in cases of risk to the life or health of the woman or pregnancy resulting from rape or incest. Such an exemption is required by international law and is required by the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, which Kenya signed in 2003. In view of the high number of maternal deaths resulting from abortion complications, the State should protect women’s right to life by ensuring meaningful access to sexual and reproductive health services including information and contraception and commit to address sexual violence and coercion…”

Read the full article, Kenya: New Constitution Must Ensure Rights for All.

Uganda: A Call for an Independent Maternal Health Ministry

“An independent ministry should be set up to handle maternal health, the deputy Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has said.

‘Who is planning for women’s health in this country? Basic things like antibiotics, oxytocins (drugs that help manage bleeding) which cost sh300 and manual vacuum aspirators to remove retained products from the womb are not there,’ she told journalists at a briefing on the state of maternal health on Friday…”

Read the full story, Uganda: Kadaga Wants Independent Maternal Health Ministry.

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