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Posts Tagged ‘Public Health and Technology’

Health officials in the state of Bihar, India have decided to develop a computer software/database that will track expecting mothers, new mothers, and newborns at the village level. The goal of the project is to keep a close eye on maternal and infant mortality in each and every village in Bihar–as well as share important health information via SMS.

iGovernment

“In a bid to minimise maternal and infant mortality in the state, the Bihar government has decided to create a database of each pregnant woman and newborn babies at village level to track their health conditions and provide prenatal and postpartum care to mothers.

The data base would offer unique named-based searches on mother and children.

The data will include date of vaccination and expected date of delivery of pregnant woman. If the family of the expecting mother has any cell phone, they would be informed through SMS. In all 80,797 anganwadi sevikas across the state have been involved to make the campaign a success.

The decision to create software to track the health conditions of expecting women and infants was taken at a meeting of senior officials of the Health Department…”

Read the full story. For more on this story from FIGO, click here.

More on maternal health in Bihar:

  1. Click here to read about a recent agreement between the state government of Bihar and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in an effort to boost the public health of the state.
  2. Click here to read about PRACHAR, a Pathfinder International project that aims to disseminate family planning and reproductive health behavior change communications messages throughout 700 villages in Bihar.
  3. Click here for a recent post on conditional cash transfers to increase in-facility births in many states, including Bihar.
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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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The Grameen Foundation, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Ghana Health Service are working together on a project called Mobile Technology for Community Health (MoTeCH). This joint initiative, funded by the Gates Foundation,  is exploring how to best use mobile phones to increase quality and quantity of maternal and neonatal health services in Ghana.

MobileActive.org

“…For example, a woman might come in for a health check-up when she’s 12 or 14 weeks pregnant, at which point she would be registered into the MoTeCH system. She would then be on track to receive two kinds of messages: informative texts and action texts. The informative texts simply tell the parents what to expect (i.e., developmental stages) during a pregnancy, while the action texts encourage parents to make clinic visits based on their personal histories (such as needs for shots or follow-up appointments).

The other target audience of MoTeCH is community health workers who provide the vast majority of primary care in much of the developing world. The workers use mobile phones to enter data such as when they have seen a patient and what kind of treatment these patients received. Data is then compiled to more easily track patients.

The idea behind MoTeCH is to link the two systems so that the messages can be more specifically targeted and tailored to the needs of the individual parents; for example, if a pregnant woman misses a tetanus shot, the community health workers’ records will show how many weeks along she is and she can be easily sent a reminder. Similarly, messages can be sent to village community health workers alerting them to patients who are in need of specific services in order to locate the patient and encourage him or her to get treatment. ‘It gets community health care workers out of the clinic and seeking patients who need care a little bit more immediately,’ said Wood…”

Read the full story here.

For more info on the subject, take a look at Dying for Cell Phones (Literally).

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Haiti has the highest maternal mortality ratio in the western hemisphere (670 maternal deaths/100,000 live births)—and UNFPA warns that this number will likely sky-rocket following the massive earthquake on Tuesday.

UN News Center

“WHO is helping to collect data on the health impact of the earthquake and is also deploying a 12-member team comprising experts in mass casualty management, coordination of emergency health response and the management of dead bodies.

UNICEF, whose offices have been badly damaged, said it will help children continue their schooling and provide safe play areas while their caretakers rebuild their lives.

Meanwhile, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) cautioned that thousands of women at risk from complications and death related to pregnancy and childbirth are in danger due to the earthquake.

Haiti has the highest maternal mortality rates in the region, with 670 deaths per 100,000 live births, and this figure is set to skyrocket due to yesterday’s powerful tremors…”

Read the full story here.

For a list of organizations you can contribute to who are helping in Haiti, click here.

Make a donation now via text message:

Text “Haiti” to 90999 – donates $10 to the Red Cross

Text “Yele” to 501501 – donates $5 to YELE HAITI

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Watch and share Pathfinder’s video, Girl2Woman, that outlines the challenges related to sexual and reproductive health that girls face throughout their lives.

Every video shared raises $1 for Pathfinder International programs—-up to $1 million. Visit the Girl2Woman site to see more information about the initiative and an interactive time line that outlines stages of life and highlights the work that Pathfinder International does to help women at each stage. At the Girl2Woman site, you can also fill out a form to share the video with your contacts.

To learn more about Pathfinder International, click here.

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BBC News

Take a look at this collection of photos and captions by BBC’s Andrew North that highlights several of the factors contributing to extremely high levels of maternal mortality in Afghanistan.

Click here to see the entire collection of photos and captions.

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