In the past week, three potentially high-impact innovations have made the news. Each holds promise for easing some of the key barriers that women face in reaching high quality maternal health care in a timely way, and together, they demonstrate both the common need for improvements in areas such as transportation and communication, which often inhibit women from reaching health care, and technologies that ensure women who reach health services receive the high quality of health services they require.
First, last week, WHO, announced that it, in collaboration with medical technology company Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) and Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development partners that they would begin scaling up production of the Odon device, an obstetric tool designed for use in settings where birth attendants lack the skills or equipment needed to safely perform forceps or vacuum-assisted deliveries.
Second, the Thomson Reuters foundation reported on the launch of the Ghana pilot project for Zero Mothers Die, an effort that draws on the many potential uses of mobile technology, enabling pregnant women to communicate with skilled birth attendants and earn money to cover costs associated with using health care , while also building the capacity of health workers.
Finally, The Atlantic and The Huffington post both reported on a new design for a “donkey ambulance,” equipped with an inflatable saddle that British charity HealthProm and designer Peter Muckle developed with the aim of enabling women living in remote, mountainous areas of Afghanistan to reach health facilities that would otherwise be out of reach.