How can we better serve mothers and children?
The first Accelerating Healthcare Access (AHA!) webinar, Every Mother and Child Thriving, took place on September 25, gathering 80+ participants online from very different geographies and backgrounds to follow the discussion between four speakers with distinct experiences, from the private sector to direct medical services or technology-based organizations. They addressed the challenges of providing primary care for mothers and children and how to scale projects to remote areas from different angles. You can find a link to the recording of the webinar below.
Jeff, Ankur, Queen, and Hilmi all use technology in creating and implementing solutions to the persistent problem of infant deaths in developing countries. One of the most striking ways in which they differ is in their opinion on the most important thing we could change or focus on to remove the barriers to needed quality healthcare.
The Importance of Data Collection and Cross-Sectoral Collaboration
For Dr. Jeffrey Smith, Director of Implementation Research and Demonstration for Scale on Maternal, Newborn & Child Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, having access to good quality data is most important, as it allows tracking diseases and responding to them, following results, and guiding initiatives. Ankur Kaul, Product & Marketing Manager for Philips, responsible for digital health solutions for primary care, shares a similar view on the importance of good data for the public health system and the need to manage this information accordingly.
Naturally, developing a sustainable and universal healthcare model for underserved communities cannot be achieved by one person or organization. Within the United Nations (UNGA), in the private sector as well as in governments and non-governmental organizations, collaborating – working in public-private partnerships – is crucial to reach this goal. Dr. Queen Dube, a pediatrician implementing new technologies at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Malawi, shared how she experiences the importance of having government support throughout the planning and implementation of projects and new solutions.
Parties need not only to think about projects and ideas but to move from ideation to comprehending the country context and improvement towards a global impact. To get there, directly addressing local people’s needs is key, and especially those of mothers and children, as they are among the main users of first lines of care. Introducing completely new technology into communities in Asia, social entrepreneur Hilmi Quraishi relies on collaboration with local organizations and government. Hilmi is using mobile telephony and gamification for health education in poor and remote areas.
Hilmi pointed out that practical arrangements, such as physical space, electricity, and water systems, must also be considered when addressing remote communities, and this reinforces the need for local partnerships. Dr. Dube reinforced the concept, explaining that without the involvement of the local ecosystem, which can include social entrepreneurs, governments, private parties, medical practitioners, and the local communities, there will be no system change.
Different ways to collect capital
Dr. Dube emphasized that the sustainable financial contribution of local governments is essential to address the full system: medicine, medical staff, training, and maintenance. If a solution is not well maintained, serviced, or staffed, it ends up not being used at all. Nevertheless, capital can come in many different forms. Besides the public sector investments, it can be seed capital, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provides, or via a donor, like those the Philips Foundation engages. In both of these cases, the role of the foundations is to de-risk innovation. However, it is essential to be in line with the local ecosystem. And about this, the four speakers share the same opinion. The digitalization of healthcare lowers costs and improves health outcomes by allowing early diagnostics and correct referrals.
These four speakers are among many innovators at the forefront of global healthcare, using technology, and creating solutions to address the needs of primary care. Check out this video to watch the complete session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gJLNims3q0&list=PL4c_sUqnnlfH3cFJmCw60Aqmgy3eS5mJk&index
Save the date! Next AHA! Webinar: Strengthening the Last Mile - November 26, 2019
The last mile refers to the problem of serving individual customers not easily reached by vast existing healthcare distribution networks. Those in rural locations or places with low-density populations are disproportionately affected. The World Bank and the World Health Organization released new findings showing that over half of the world’s 7.3 billion people, including a billion in remote rural communities, lack access to essential health services. These include prenatal care, vaccinations, and malaria treatment. Compounding this crisis is a massive shortage of healthcare workers, which is forecasted to grow to 18 million by 2030.
The speakers in the second AHA! Webinar, on November 26, will discuss the inherent challenges as well as their inventive strategies for reaching these critical segments of the population. Please keep an eye on this website for more details as they are released!