Innovative Minds Meet to Save Mums and Babies

by Amref Health Africa

The second Innovate for Life meet-up was held this week at the Amref Health Africa Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, bringing together over 120 innovators to discuss and brainstorm on solutions to preventing maternal and infant mortality in Africa.

The event was a build up from a similar event held in January preceding a hackathon at the upcoming AHAIC – Africa Health Agenda International Conference Hackathon that will be happening on March 7-9, 2017. The hackathon and related activities are sponsored by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company.

Dr Githinji Gitahi, Amref Health Africa Group CEO, advised the innovators not to view the hackathon merely as a competition, but to make their focus the finding of solutions to save mothers and children in Africa; winning would be a bonus.

“The hackathon is not the ultimate goal, We would like to see as many solutions as possible that will help mothers and children in Africa,” he said.

Amref Health Africa in Kenya Country Director Dr Meshack Ndirangu, noted that the risk of a mother dying due to pregnancy-related issues in Africa is 100 times higher than that of a mother in a developed country. This, he said, is an alarming number given that most of these deaths are avoidable as they are mostly caused by delays in the healthcare system and in mothers seeking medical help.

Every day, approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, with 99% of all maternal deaths occurring in developing countries, half of that number in sub-Saharan Africa. Jerome Wang, Takeda’s Digital Explorer in Emerging Markets, noted that maternal and infant mortality were a big problem in Africa, and gave Takeda’s commitment to helping find effective solutions.

Also read about Meetup 1

Mercy Maingi, a community nurse from Samburu, spoke about her experiences and those of mothers in the harsh terrain where they live. “The terrain in Baragoi makes movement difficult. Women have no access to ante-natal care so they only see a doctor during delivery, if at all, and this poses a huge risk to both the mother and the child. The risk of bleeding to death becomes high,” she said.

Also present at the event were a mother from who had lost a baby during childbirth, and a man who had lost two wives, both due to pregnancy-related complications. They narrated the circumstances surrounding their experiences to give innovators a first-person account of the realities on the ground. In addition, Dr Koki Kanagwi, Chief of Party of Amref’s Afya Timiza Programme, gave an overview of the challenges that women face from before conception to the weeks after delivery.

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