Innovative tools to reduce maternal and newborn mortality in low resource settings

November 13, 2013

The World Health Organization and M4ID launch a new initiative, “Better Outcomes in Labour Difficulty” (BOLD), to research and design a set of new tools to support health workers in providing appropriate care during childbirth and to increase demand for respectful, quality care among communities in low resource settings.

Labour difficulties result in deaths and long-term disabilities for thousands of mothers and newborn babies every year, particularly in under-served communities. The BOLD innovation project, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, seeks to improve labour outcomes through a combined health facility and community-based approach.  WHO will at the health facility level carry out research to develop a new model for a digital, simplified labour monitoring and action tool. This tool aims to improve on the partograph, the paper-based tool currently in use to monitor the progress of labour and support decision-making. In parallel, M4ID will together with community groups and care providers, design novel solutions to improve access to respectful, quality care at the time of birth for pregnant women and their families.

“Through this project we have the opportunity to transform the way birth is attended.   The new monitoring tools will enable better, more consistent and timely decisions, leading to safer practices and better births outcomes for mothers and babies across the globe”  says Marleen Temmerman, Director, WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research.

“This is a unique project, we are using a complimentary community-health facility approach and, for the first time, we’re combining user-centred design methods with WHO’s health research expertise” says Mari Tikkanen, Managing Director, M4ID.

The two-year project will be implemented in two sub-Saharan African countries.  The final set of tools will then be piloted and tested across multiple low-resource countries over the next five years.