Community health workers in India and Uganda will be armed with smartphones and tablets that use data analytics, risk maps and social media trends to help save the lives of vulnerable mothers and babies.
The $100 million project, funded by the philanthropic Rockefeller Foundation, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank and others, will be extended to 10 countries in all and aims to prevent the premature deaths of 6 million women and children by 2030.
The plan is to give front line health workers inexpensive data analytic tools to help them gather the intelligence they need to focus on communities and families most at risk, said Raj Shah, president of the Rockefeller, which is leading the project and investing $60 million of the $100 million total funding.
This will include creating real-time risk maps to help health workers be more effective at reaching mothers and children in need, and analyzing non-health data such as climate patterns or social media trends to predict and prepare in advance for local disease outbreaks or health emergencies.
“A few years ago, these community health workers had no real technology – they were usually flying blind,” Shah said.
“Today the vast majority of them have smartphones with data and software technologies literally in their hands – and with those, we can help them do their work better.”
U.N. figures published last week showed that while more women and newborns survive now than ever before, a baby or a pregnant woman still dies every 11 seconds somewhere in the world.
Levels of maternal deaths are nearly 50 times higher for women in sub-Saharan Africa than in wealthy countries, and their babies are 10 times more likely to die in their first month of life, the report found.