Lorin Kavanaugh-Ulku

‘Saving Lives at Birth’: Recognizing the best and brightest innovators in maternal and newborn health

What do a garage mechanic from Argentina, a team of students from North Carolina and a group of doctors in Kenya have in common? They are all pushing the boundaries of innovation to save the lives of women and newborns during their most vulnerable hours – from the time of labor to the 48 hours after a baby is born. And they will be in Washington, D.C., this week for the Saving Lives at Birth DevelopmentXChange, a preeminent maternal and newborn health innovations marketplace and forum.

Now in its fourth year, Saving Lives at Birth DevelopmentXChange will culminate in a public event on Aug. 1. More than 95 innovators, including the 52 finalists from the Round 4 call for innovations, will come together to compete, exchange ideas, share their unique innovations and find inspiration.

The danger that women and newborns face during their most vulnerable hours is staggering: every two minutes, a woman dies in childbirth, and in Sub-Saharan Africa, women are 136 times more likely to die than in developed countries. Significantly lowering or impacting these numbers requires new and inventive approaches to make lasting progress. Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development – a joint project of USAID, the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada and the Department for International Development – seeks out these pioneering ideas that innovate on health science/technology, service delivery and/or demand. (Note: The author supports communications outreach efforts for USAID’s Global Development Challenges.)

This year’s 52 finalists have been selected out of hundreds of applications as the most promising – and groundbreaking – concepts to tackle maternal and newborn deaths. These innovators presented their ideas in Washington on July 29, where they were joined by current Saving Lives at Birth awardees such as: Jorge Odon, the Argentine car mechanic who has developed an innovative assisted delivery device; Jacaranda Health’s team of doctors and health care workers who are providing low-income women with access to quality, innovative care across Kenya; and the Duke University team of students that developed the Pratt Pouch – a fast food ketchup-like packet that can prevent transmission of HIV in the hours after birth.

At the open-to-the-public Marketplace, set for 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 1, innovators – both Round 4 finalists and current grantees – will showcase their devices, tools, programs and ideas. Immediately following the Marketplace, the public is invited to hear from out-of-the-box thinkers and entrepreneurs and learn which innovation was nominated to receive the People’s Choice Award, the Peer Choice Award and nominations for Round 4 awards.

No matter where you are in the world, you can join in and participate in the fourth Saving Lives at Birth DevelopmentXChange.

1. Check out all 52 finalists on the Saving Lives at Birth website. Here, you can meet innovators from around the world and in all types of organizations, from nonprofits to universities, faith-based organizations, start-up companies, and more. Read about all their innovations and how they plan to mark themselves as game-changers in maternal and newborn health.

2. Vote on your favorite innovation for the People’s Choice Award, and stay tuned for the results on Aug. 1.

3. Keep tabs on the DevelopmentXChange through social media. On Twitter, follow tweets @GCDSavingLives #DevX2014. Keep up-to-date via the Saving Lives at Birth blog, and don’t forget to check the Saving Lives at Birth innovator page following the DevelopmentXChange for new videos on the selected grantees.

4. Register for the Marketplace here.

5. Stay tuned and check in to the Saving Lives at Birth website on and after Aug. 1 for additional information about the 2014 award nominees and videos from the DevelopmentXChange. To receive automatic updates, sign up for our newsletter.

This blog originally appeared on the Savings Lives at Birth website and is reprinted here with permission.

Lorin Kavanaugh-Ulku is a senior communications advisor with DAI and supports communications outreach efforts for USAID’s Global Development Challenges.

Health Care
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