Modern medicine has made great progress in reducing the risk of pregnancy and childbirth. What used to be a common cause of death for women is now a very rare occurrence.
Copyright: forbes.com – “How A Digital Health Solution Is Helping To Save Women’s Lives In Kenya”
However, these improvements are not evenly distributed around the world. According to the World Bank, the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 healthy births in 2017 was six in Europe, 16 in the U.S., but a shocking 342 in Kenya.
Recently, I spoke to Dr. Lorraine Muluka, co-founder and CEO of Malaica, a Kenyan startup that focuses on women’s health. Dr. Muluka is a practicing gynecologist and obstetrician who has seen firsthand the high mortality rate among pregnant women in Kenya. She explained that several factors contribute to this issue. Often, the woman herself is not taking her symptoms seriously and rather relies on her mother’s and circle of friend’s knowledge about pregnancy that has been passed on from generation to generation. Unfortunately, there are also many myths and false ideas widely spread in society. Another contributing factor is that many women simply don’t know where to go for medical care leading to large delays in receiving necessary treatment when needed. Many women are also hesitant to seek care due to the long waiting times and poor experiences at the hospitals.
Dr. Muluka was very frustrated when regularly seeing preventable deaths among pregnant women. In order to improve the situation she founded Malaica together with three other entrepreneurs – Isis Nyong’o, Victor Ndegwa and Pascal Koenig. The startup’s solution is to connect pregnant women with a personal midwife who provides guidance throughout the pregnancy. Through regular WhatsApp chats and video calls, the midwife offers support and information to the women. This is especially important as many of these women are single mothers. The midwife also helps the women to find the right medical care when they need it, even if they might not have health insurance.
One success story from Malaica involved a woman who developed symptoms of preeclampsia. Thanks to the trust she had in her assigned midwife, she went to the recommended clinic and received timely care. Preeclampsia is a dangerous condition for both the mother and the child, but in this case, thanks to the quick intervention, they both recovered well. Typically, women in Kenya experience delays in getting medical care, as they often first consult with family members before seeking professional help. Once in the healthcare system, they may face additional delays in receiving proper care. However, Malaica’s midwife can quickly identify urgent cases and ensure that the women receive appropriate care before it is too late.[…]
Read more: www.forbes.com
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