StartUp Health Magazine_Issue 03 (2019)

Page 45

The Women’s Health Moonshot


PREFACE Being born a woman shouldn’t be a health risk factor. But in much of the world, it is. For too long, women have suffered under an unequal power paradigm, and it has compromised the quality of healthcare they receive. A staggering one-third of women are likely to experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. Depression is more common among women than men. Women are prescribed less pain medication than men, even though women report more frequent and severe pain levels. According to the WHO, self-harm, including suicide, was the second leading cause of death globally among females, aged 15–29, in 2015. Building a global women’s health moonshot means widening the aperture on the definition of women’s health, focusing on issues that move beyond the current litmus test—sexual and reproductive health—to a standard of living well. This includes a women’s right to physical and mental health and well-being. It means creating a world where individual women no longer have to shoulder the burden of advocating for themselves in order to get proper medical care, a world where they can rely on the medical system. It means that moving forward, there will be no country where women fear for their health and safety simply because of their gender.

Kenyan App Brings Prenatal Education to At-Risk Moms While many women in Kenya lack access to medical professionals or prenatal education, most own a mobile phone. BabyMed is on a mission to save the lives of hundreds of women dying daily in East Africa due to preventable pregnancy or childbirth complications through its information-alert app. BabyMed steps in by providing educational, supportive text messages or voice memos at every stage of pregnancy. The technology supports simple health interventions that have been proven to reduce maternal and child deaths. Currently Kenya is among the ten most dangerous countries for pregnant women with a mortality rate of 300-488 deaths per 100,000 live births. BabyMed’s moonshot is to cut that number by more than 50%.

Leadership Profile Bryan Okello, CEO and co-founder of BabyMed, has experience in web and app design. He is also the founder of Jabotech Creative Media, which is the digital services company that created the app. How it Works When a pregnant woman visits a BabyMed-partnered obstetrician or midwife, she is signed up for the free app in-office. Immediately, free educational text messages, voice messages and e-learning courses are available to her in both English and Swahili depending on her stage of pregnancy. From weeks five to 42 she receives simple text or voice messages on nutrition and preparing for the baby’s arrival. When she gives birth, she then receives messages on breastfeeding, hand washing, use of bed nets to prevent malaria and prevention of the transmission of HIV/ AIDS, especially if she is already diagnosed. She receives educational messages on post-partum planning in the weeks that follow. A sample message a mother receives on her phone is, “Your breastmilk is making your baby strong. Feed him 8-10 times a day, with nighttime feeds too. Don’t give him water or anything else.” The app preps mom in bite-size chunks for the process of birth and raising an infant.