Healthcare innovations can revolutionise maternal and infant health

Friday, December 13, 2013

Despite the amazing advances made by our nation since independence, one area where we continue to be woefully inadequate is basic health parameters, particularly maternal and infant health. We still account for one out of every five maternal deaths and 40% of infant deaths within the first 24 hours of birth. Many of these deaths are completely preventable if adequate facilities were available. For example, babies whose birth weights are low need to be put in incubators – a medical device in which provides a protective environment for the newborn. Sadly, most rural hospitals can’t afford incubators and even if they could, they wouldn’t be able to run them due to lack of continuous supply of electricity. So instead an ingenious device – which looks similar to a mini-sleeping bag – was created which could provide heat to the baby for up to four hours without electricity once it was charged. This is just one of the 23 innovations mentioned in the book Maternal Health – Case Studies from India which documented low cost innovations to alleviate maternal health woes. We talked to Madhavi Mishra, Senior Research Fellow and Adjunct Lecturer of the Public Health Foundation of India who conducted field studies for documentation for this book. Excerpts from the interview:

What is the basic purpose of the book?

This book is a result of a project undertaken by Public Health Foundation of India, supported by MacArthur Foundation. The main objective was to document innovations in maternal health as case studies for teaching, training and advocacy. Each innovation has been studied in-depth and a written case study has been written on it. There is a film made for each of the innovations and these can be taught in a classroom setting. We have already used it successfully in multiple class room settings across the country and disseminated widely.

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