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The Philips Foundation and UNICEF partner to improve maternal and newborn health in Kenya

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | September 23, 2015
Medical Devices Population Health Risk Management Women's Health
The rate of maternal, newborn and child mortality rates in developing countries like Kenya is very high. UNICEF and the Philips Foundations have partnered along with Concern Worldwide, Maker, and Gearbox to create the Maternal Newborn Health Innovations Project, which aims to improve the health of pregnant women and children in Kenya.

“The project will develop and nurture innovation platforms that design, prototype and produce lifesaving and health-promoting devices predominantly for use in under-resourced maternity hospitals and health facilities throughout the region,” Katy Hartley, head of the Philips Foundation, told HCB News.

The rate of child deaths per 1,000 in Kenya has declined from 90 in 2003 to 52 in 2014 but it is still below the Millennium Development Goal 4 target, which is 33 by the end of 2015. Neonatal mortality is also very high at 22 deaths per 1,000 live births.

One of the leading causes of this is a lack of medical equipment and technology to support basic interventions. The new project is aiming to work with partner organizations and local innovation hubs with guidance from Kenya's government, to develop innovative, low-cost and locally designed health care devices by 2018.

“Today, a large majority of medical supplies in Kenya, over 90 percent, are imported from abroad,” said Hartley. “What very little equipment is locally procured is generally limited to non-complex equipment such as beds and trolleys.”

If the devices created through the project are successfully adopted, the Philips Foundation will leverage the expertise of the Philips Africa Innovation Hub to work directly with the Maker Hub innovators to get guidance on various stages of the development of the devices, including clinical testing.

This past January, the Philips Foundation announced global innovation partnerships with the Red Cross and UNICEF. With the Red Cross, the Philips Foundation is exploring innovations and technology that can assist in providing immediate relief to regions impacted by humanitarian crises; and with UNICEF, they are working to develop new health care innovations for the first 1,000 days of children’s lives.

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