USAID Saving Lives at Birth Grand Challenge for Development
In February, the USAID Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development launched their fifth call for groundbreaking, sustainable innovations to save the lives of mothers and newborns in remote parts of the world – and Intermountain Healthcare responded to the call. The Saving Lives at Birth program, which mobilizes the world’s brightest thinkers, is an important part of a global effort to bring an end to the 289,000 maternal deaths, 2.8 million newborn deaths, and 2.6 million stillbirths that occur each year.
The challenge, launched in 2011, is run by a partnership of several organizations, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada (funded by the Government of Canada), and the U.K’s Department for International Development (DFID).
The program seeks and rewards groundbreaking prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns in poor, hard-to-reach communities.
Every two minutes, a woman dies in childbirth.
In sub-Saharan Africa, women are 136 times more likely to die than in developed countries. We also know that healthy mothers help raise healthy children who get better food and more time in school – leading to stronger families, communities and nations.
Most of the maternal-fetal deaths that occur between labor onset and 48 hours after birth happen in low- and middle-income countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where access to quality care is also the poorest. With limited access to electricity, clean water, adequate transportation, and trained healthcare professionals, women in these parts of the world often go without the life-saving care they need at the time of birth.
Innovators from a range of organizations – including non-profits, faith-based organizations, universities, and private enterprises – from all over the world – such as Australia, Kenya, Pakistan, Canada, Nigeria, and the United States – work in partnerships to foster creative and sustainable solutions that span science and technology, service delivery, and demand creation. Each of the innovations has the potential to dramatically reduce maternal and neonatal deaths at the community level.
Our very own Women & Newborn experts have made it to the finals in the challenge, advancing past hundreds of other competitors.
This is a summary of the Intermountain entry:
“Babies and mothers die and have long-term health problems from preventable causes, nearly all in low income countries. Despite recent successful interventions in Bangladesh, mortality rates remain high because most births occur at home with unskilled traditional birth attendants (dais).
Our proposal centers on development of a novel device to help the untrained, illiterate user recognize complications in pregnant mothers (Science & Technology) with dissemination of the device by government health workers to dais in a way that fosters education (Service Delivery).
Empowerment of dais through technology, education and support will in turn motivate pregnant women to pursue healthy behaviors (Demand Creation). Our objectives are to create a low-cost, handheld, solar-powered, ultrasound and cell technology- based device with embedded automated algorithms for fetal gestational age, growth, presentation and number, as well as placental location; validate the ability of this device to identify pregnant mothers at risk of complications; and test the efficacy of the device in improving care seeking behavior (of both mothers and their dais) and maternal/neonatal outcomes.
This proposal combines medical, engineering, and public health expertise in a unique global marriage of institutions. Assuming success in these objectives, we will scale up the intervention stepwise throughout Bangladesh and, ultimately, globally.”
What can you do?
You can help Intermountain be selected as a “People’s Choice Award” winner of the challenge by voting for our entry. Just go to https://savinglivesatbirth.net/summaries/2015/414 and create a login to vote! The challenge organizers have not specified how many finalists will receive funding, so your vote may really help make a difference as we strive to promote the health and wellbeing of mothers and newborns around the world.