AHA! Webinars: Every mother and child thriving

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Sep 02, 2019
By the Philips Foundation team
​​​The Philips Foundation and Ashoka will host a series of webinars to explore the innovative paths to accelerate access to care (AHA!) in disadvantaged communities by connecting social entrepreneurship with industry skills.
Mother and child thriving
In our first webinar, on the 25th of September, we will focus on the role of technology in reducing maternal mortality in developing countries, in response to the World Health Organization's analysis of 2018 on this issue. Five experts on the topic will discuss how we can overcome the system barriers and root causes that hinder primary mother and child care and why this is so important.

Global context


We have made enormous progress in the area of technology and medicine over the past 10 years. Vaccines against deadly diseases, DNA sequencing, stem cells research, face transplants and surgeries that can now be conducted via few millimeters’ orifice. However, there is still a lot to be done. In recent years around 830 pregnant women are dying every day. Around 303,000 maternal and 2.6 million neonatal deaths were registered in 2015 alone. With the technology and science within reach, could it be possible that these deaths could have been prevented by providing access to basic health care?


According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2018), the majority of the 830 mothers who daily lose their lives die from preventable causes. 99% of the cases occur in developing countries and their fragile community settings, located in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, with limited access to healthcare. While the maternal mortality ratio in developed countries is 12 per 100,000 live births, in developing countries this proportion reaches 239 in every 100,000 (WHO, 2015​).

Maternal deaths: where and why


Medical monitoring before, during, and after childbirth can save lives. It is therefore of the utmost importance to take care of this not only in urban centers, but even more urgently in rural, more remote areas. Without access to professional support, women are vulnerable to delivery complications such as severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure, and unsafe abortions, according to the WHO.


Aside from poverty and limited access to medical center, the highest affected areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia also deal with low numbers of skilled health workers. Millions of pregnant women give birth without being assisted by a midwife, doctor or trained nurse. Another issues that needs to be addressed is the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and access to contraception. Maternal mortality among 15-year-olds is one of the highest in developing countries, 1 in 180 compared to 1 in 4,900 in developed countries.

The path forward


These are troubling figures, but this does not mean that nothing has been done to combat this problem. The WHO, humanitarian organizations and social entrepreneurs have been working on impactful projects to reduce maternal mortality worldwide. Between 1990 and 2015, there was an improvement of 44%. Data from the Worldbank shows that the global mortality rate of children under five dropped from 93 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 39 in 2017.


But we’re obviously not there yet. That’s why the Philips Foundation and Ashoka are hosting Every Mother and Child Thriving, a webinar which will be broadcast on September 25, 14:00 CEST. It will feature a discussion between carefully selected topic experts, including a social entrepreneur, a Philips expert, and delegates from PharmAccess and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, about what is already done and can be done in the future to overcome the system barriers and root causes that hinder primary mother and childcare. It would be great if you can join us.

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