This week, after hearing about Grameen Foundation’s successes in its Mobile Midwife program in both Ghana and Nigeria, we sought to read more on the importance of improving maternal health and the collaborate efforts being undertaken to spur lifesaving innovations in the field. In a report by the World Health Organization, trends in maternal mortality between 1990 and 2010 revealed that maternal mortality has decreased by 47%! This progress owes itself to the work of local enterprises, governments, and NGOs, which have targeted effective interventions within the community, hospital, or clinic to deal with the issue. However, the Millennium Development Goal to reduce global maternal mortality by 75% by 2015 has yet to be achieved and Grameen Foundation along with other organizations are seeking to address these inequalities by expanding access to health services through innovative means.
The Harvard School of Public Health released a report on maternal health as a determinant of adverse outcomes of pregnancy in Accra, Ghana and found that high blood pressure, education level, type of occupation, and the source of the health care were associated with an adverse pregnancy outcome. This reveals the importance of health education at the community level to ensure that complications in the pregnancy are prevented. Having access to information and understanding the local perceptions on pregnancy can allow for an effective mediation led by local groups. In Ghana, Grameen Foundation created MOTECH, a mobile service that provides critical information about nutrition and other useful means to ensure the healthiness of the mother!
The success of these efforts is due in part to the fact that they are conducted at the local level giving more importance to culturally applicable solutions and products. This can have far reaching impacts even in the most impoverished locations where maternal mortality deaths are the worst. For example, PATH, a leading innovator in global health is working in South Africa to create low cost technology to address bleeding issues after childbirth with a uterine balloon tamponade. Grameen Foundation partnered with PATH and Village Reach in Malawi to implement new ideas like a 24-hour hotline for health services and booking services through SMS for postnatal and antenatal care. These were recommended by local actors who brainstormed to promote maternal health.
Lastly, perceptions that women are weak or unequal to men because of inadequate access to healthcare are slowly changing as we continue to promote maternal healthcare. Childbirth and pregnancy are occasions of celebration and hope and by providing tools to address causes of maternal deaths, Grameen Foundation and many other organizations are working to promote prosperity within communities.
Check back next week for BwB intern, Joohi's update on what we've been reading!