Childbirth is currently the leading cause of death for women of childbearing age in the Global South. A woman dies every ninety seconds giving birth, which means 326, 000 deaths worldwide this year. The primary causes are postpartum hemorrhaging (excessive bleeding), obstructed labor, eclampsia (seizures that result in a coma or death), infection or sepsis, and unsafe abortions.
Although there have been strong advances in maternal health care in recent years, there is a lack of communication between frontline practitioners and international development policy makers. Enter Maternova, which designs toolkits for frontline workers based on extensive field and academic research.
Maternova is based within the United States and focuses on connecting medical professionals in the development sector with innovative, low-cost products to aid maternal health.
The Maternova Obstetric Kit is specifically designed for midwives and frontline health workers with a focus on postpartum hemorrhaging. The price of a kit is $63 USD, and they are a simple, inexpensive toolbox designed to help midwives and frontline medical staff with limited resources.
Portable and Practical
The kits are designed to fit within a small backpack, and include a hand-crank mobile phone charger, a solar powered headlamp, a WHO Colour Scale to detect anemia (200 test strips) and pictorial cards demonstrating the active management of the third stage of labor. The whole kit is designed to fit within a reusable carry pack that includes hooks to display pictorial cards for easy reference.
It also includes an innovated tool called a calibrated drape, which fits under the buttocks with a calibrated funnel that helps health practitioners measure blood loss. The drape can then be bleached and re-used. The anemia test strips are also a crucial component: With just one drop of blood, a midwife is able to recognize a woman with deficient red blood cells.
The solar powered headlamps are included to help provide light for night time deliveries, but are also a safety feature for the midwives themselves. It can be dangerous to travel through refugee camps and remote rural areas in the dark, and the light helps keeps predators at bay. Furthermore, the ability to have a charged cell phone ensures that midwives are able to call for help in case of danger or medical emergencies.
Maternova has won numerous awards for its innovations. Among others, the group won the 2011 LOHAS Prize (Life of Health and Sustainability) Prize and was a finalist for the Cartier Women’s Initiative as well as the Katerca Prize. In 2012, it was recognized as one of the fifty best innovations for women by Women Deliver.
Maternova recently provided a shipment of obstetric kits to Haiti to support some of the country’s newly graduated midwives. Haiti currently has the highest maternal mortality rate in the western hemisphere, and it will be interesting to watch the impact that these kits will have. The kits have also been tested by health practitioners in Liberia, Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Palestine, Honduras and China.
For more information, visit their website.