Basic healthcare knowledge is a right that is denied to too many mothers in developing countries. Widely accessible mobile technology has enormous potential to provide this - a snippet of information at the touch of a button is all it could take to save a life.
This insight comes from the HealthPhone program, headed by the Mother and Child Health Education Trust. Despite amazing progress in the field, a report from the UN’s EWEC (Every Woman Every Child) found that 300,000 women continue to die each year from avoidable complications of pregnancy and childbirth, the majority in developing countries.
There is a starkly apparent link between maternal deaths and disempowered mothers. Simply put, ‘the more educated a mother, the less likely her child is to die’, points out Leith Greenslade, Co-Chair of Child Health, MDG Health Alliance
Nand Wadhwani, Founder of the Mother and Child Health Education Trust, explains how the HealthPhone initiative directly targets this recognition. HealthPhone is a free service that brings short videos with crucial educational information to women’s mobile phones on microSD memory cards, through mobile network operators, mobile apps, social networks. It focuses on the most vulnerable groups - adolescent girls and women up to 35 years old - and provides knowledge about a spectrum of relevant health topics, such as care for pregnant women and infants and the importance of nutrition.
UNICEF points out that: “As many as 40 per cent of child deaths could be prevented with improved family and community care – not high-tech health equipment, but access to solid knowledge’. HealthPhone is a game changer, allowing this life-saving knowledge to reach those who have never been able to access it in the traditional ways. The next generation will doubtlessly reap the rewards.
Mediaplanet, the media group behind the campaign featuring this insight into HealthPhone, also partnered with many other pioneering organisations committed to cutting maternal mortality rates. One key thought leader was Rwandan Minister of Health, Dr Diane Gashumba. In the last 15 years, Rwanda has reduced its maternal mortality ratio from 1.071% to 0.21% in 2015. One strategy behind this success was the implementation of community engagement schemes – three health workers operate in each village, giving pregnant women hygiene and nutritional counselling. This effort towards universal health coverage turns on the same essential goal of HealthPhone.
Much more needs to be done to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of reducing the global maternal death ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030. But another influencer, Dr. Natalia Kanem, Acting Executive Director of UNFPA, is optimistic in light of the developments taking place that we can achieve this, and eventually stop unnecessary maternal deaths for good.
Read more about Maternal Health: www.globalhealthaction.co.uk/maternal-health
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