Home | Pregnancy Timeline | News Alerts |News Archive Sep 27, 2013
"Simple and effective health interventions exist to prevent millions of needless deaths of women and children in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. But to address this, it's critical that we scale up the delivery of innovative tools and services to communities facing the greatest need."
Chris Elias, M.D., president, Global Development Program, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Innovations for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health Nearly 4 million newborn infants die each year before reaching one month of age, accounting for the majority of all under-five deaths. The knowledge, tools and treatments already exist that would prevent and treat the major killers of mothers, newborns, and children under five.
United Nations Web TV Around the world, hundreds of thousands of women die every year due to pregnancy related causes. A new human rights study suggests that discrimination against women plays a significant role in this chronic global problem.
Innovations save lives of mothers and children
Health care innovations, if brought to scale immediately in low-resource countries, have potential to save the lives of some 1.2 million mothers and children in 2015.
Identified by international experts from hundreds of candidates, these innovations are ready to be deployed where they are needed most by the end of 2015. According to a new publication, Breakthrough innovations that can save women and children now, released this week by PATH, an international nonprofit organization that transforms global health through innovation.
Right now the annual global death toll of mothers and children under 5 is 6.9 million. Between 2016-2020, these innovations have the potential to save the lives of nearly 7.5 million women and children.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who wrote the introductory message to the PATH report, says "the need for innovation has never been more paramount" and considers it an integral part of his Every Woman Every Child movement and its effort to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015.
The report was presented this week at a high level UN panel at the United Nations General Assembly. The panel included Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway Bill Gates, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook; Judith Rodin, President, Rockefeller Foundation. The innovations are proven and inexpensive, and when available, will save lives of the poorest women and children in some of the poorest countries of the world. These areas account for more than 95 percent of maternal, newborn and young child deaths globally.
Tore Godal, M.D., Ph.D., special advisor to the Prime Minister of Norway and a leader behind the push for innovation puts it another way. "If we are going to make further progress on reducing death and illness of poor women, their newborns and children, we will need to ensure access to these innovations in hard to reach pockets of very poor, marginalized populations."
50 percent of maternal deaths are attributed to:
postpartum hemorrhage — severe bleeding after childbirth
pre-eclampsia/eclampsia — detected during pregnancy through elevated blood pressure, can lead to deadly seizures and organ failure.
Inadequate spacing of a woman's pregnancies is another contributing factor to maternal deaths globally.
Among children under 5, pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria are among the leading causes of death.
44 percent of child deaths occur among newborns who succumb to premature birth-related complications, neonatal infection, and respiratory disorders such as pneumonia.
This focus on innovation is led by PATH, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Government of Norway, the United States Agency for International Development, the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, UNICEF, Grand Challenges Canada and the United Nations Foundation.
"Innovation is at the heart of global health progress," says Steve Davis, president and CEO of PATH. "But even the most effective tool that's developed cannot save lives unless it is available at the right time and in the right place. Now is a critical time for the global community to band together to deliver and implement today's most promising innovations to increase global health equity."
Ongoing efforts involve both making better use of commodities, equipment and health workers already in place, as well as find ways to adapt these innovations where needed.
Magnesium sulfate is the most effective treatment to stop severe pre-eclampsia and eclampsia —pregnancy-related conditions that are the second-leading cause of maternal death. The current World Health Organization (WHO) treatment regimen is extremely complex, making it difficult for health care providers in low-resource settings to provide the medicine correctly. Jhpiego, PATH, Merck for Mothers and others working in collaboration with WHO are developing a simplified dosing regimen that is easier to learn and use in any setting.
Low-Cost Antiseptic. Chlorhexidine is a low-cost antiseptic that prevents infections that can enter an infant's body through newly cut umbilical cords. These infections cause some 12 percent newborn deaths each year. The Chlorhexidine Working Group, an international consortium led by PATH, is taking steps to improve access by improving supply lines for this medicine, which has the proven potential to save hundreds of thousands of newborn lives.
Rotovac is a new vaccine to prevent rotavirus related diarrhea, which is common in developing countries. The vaccine, delivered with ORS and zinc, could virtually eliminate diarrhea deaths. Bharat Biotech and the India Department of Biotechnology are still testing the vaccine. Once licensed in India, it can be produced at less than $1 a dose and made available by the end of 2015.
The Backpack-PLUS delivers essential commodities that community health workers need to do their jobs at the "last mile" of delivery. The toolkit includes medicines such as zinc, ORS, antibiotics and anti-malarial drugs. Moreover, it can be instrumental in a country's planning, training and extension of its supply chain. It was developed in a partnership between UNICEF, Save the Children, the MDG Health Alliance, frog design and others.
Helping Babies Breathe, an initiative of the American Academy of Pediatrics and others, is working to train one million birth attendants to ensure every baby's first breath, no matter where they are born. The program, which reduced early newborn mortality by as much as 47 percent in Tanzania, uses innovative teaching tools—including NeoNatalie, a newborn simulator, created by Laerdal, a Norwegian foundation. This device teaches health workers to safely deliver babies in any setting with simple supplies.
Bubble CPAP, a bubble continuous positive airway device, saves lives of babies with severe respiratory illness, including pneumonia, by forcing oxygen into babies' lungs. An undergraduate student at Rice University developed a $400 version of the bubble CPAP, using an aquarium pump and a water bottle. This can be used in place of the $6,000 CPAP that is far too expensive for low-income regions. The low-cost version was tested in Malawi, where it dramatically improved newborn survival.
Phone Oximeter, a low-cost, mobile phone-based monitoring device that measures blood oxygen levels can help front-line health workers diagnose and manage pre-eclampsia and pneumonia. The University of British Columbia and LionsGate Technologies developed the potentially lifesaving device.
Sayana Press is an inexpensive contraceptive packaged in a prefilled, single dose injection system called Uniject. The device can be used by less skilled health workers after minimal training and is effective for three months. This easily used contraceptive gives women more choice and enables healthier spacing between children. If a woman gets pregnant too soon after delivery, it puts the pregnancy and ultimately both the newborn and the mother at risk.
"If we can get these low-cost innovations to people who need them the most, we have the potential to save millions of lives," says Kathy Calvin, President & CEO at the United Nations Foundation. Innovation supporters estimate that $1 billion will be needed to implement these and other innovations. Money is available through the more than $45 billion in financial commitments to support the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for reducing childhood deaths by two-thirds (MDG 4) and maternal deaths by three quarters (MDG 5) by 2015.
"Innovation is an ongoing process," notes Amie Batson, chief strategy officer at PATH. "It starts with understanding the needs and barriers of the affected communities and often requires years of research and development before it is ready for introduction. These 10 innovations will be ready before the end of 2015, but there are some amazing innovations in the pipeline that show great promise beyond as well."
Despite the barriers, significant progress is being made and major partners are optimistic.
"The existing pipeline of innovations has potential game changers that could bring an end to preventable child and maternal deaths," says Rajiv Shah, M.D., Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. "Accelerating innovation makes this ambitious target possible."
Original press releas: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-09/e-cei092513.php