January 11, 2017

Proudly announcing support from two world leaders within the maternal health field

Mobile app will help provide 2 million women a safer birth based on support from two world leaders within the maternal health field

Maternity Foundation proudly announces support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MSD, through MSD for Mothers*, to further develop and scale-up The Safe Delivery App, a ground-breaking mobile health tool that teaches and instructs skilled birth attendants in low and middle-income countries in an effort to save the lives of mothers and newborns during childbirth.

Every day, 800 women and 14.000 newborns die due to causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. 99 % of these deaths happen in low and middle-income countries. This is a direct result of the fact that many skilled birth attendants do not have the skills and knowledge needed to prevent the leading causes of maternal and neonatal deaths, e.g. hemorrhage, infection and obstructed labour.

The Safe Delivery App – developed by Danish NGO Maternity Foundation, University of Copenhagen and University of Southern Denmark – leverages the growing ubiquity of mobile phones to provide easy access to clinical guidelines through easy-to-understand animated instruction videos, action cards and drug lists. All features are designed for low-literacy and low-income settings.

Research results from a randomized control trial in Ethiopia in 2014 demonstrated that the App can significantly increase the ability of birth attendants to save lives: After 12 months of using the The Safe Delivery App, the health workers’ ability to stop a woman’s bleeding or to resuscitate a newborn more than doubled.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MSD for Mothers will provide support totaling $2.8 million over the next three years, which will enable the three partners behind the App – Copenhagen University, University of Southern Denmark and Maternity Foundation – to create a new version of The Safe Delivery App with improved learning functionality and to reach more health workers across sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia with the App. MSD for Mothers has also supported the first version and the clinical trial of The Safe Delivery App.

In the years to come, Maternity Foundation will work with ministries of health, larger NGOs and other partners across Africa and Southeast Asia to implement The Safe Delivery App within their health programs. Among the many great organizations Maternity Foundation is currently partnering with are UNFPA, WHO, the World Bank, Ethiopian Midwives Association, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Jhpiego, Børnefonden, Danish Red Cross, SOS Children’s Villages and numerous ministries of health.

Anna Frellsen, CEO of Maternity Foundation, says: “We are extremely honored and proud that two world leaders within the maternal health field will support our work with The Safe Delivery App. Their know-how and expertise within maternal and newborn health, data analytics and private sector expertise on sustainability will be fundamental to help us reach as many health workers and women as possible. In addition, their network of stakeholders in the global health field will help us – as a relatively small Danish NGO – to form national and international partnerships to ensure a sustainable and long-term implementation of the App within the existing health structures in our partner countries.”

The specific targets and initiatives for The Safe Delivery App from 2017 to 2019 include:

  • Creation of a 2.0 version of the App with a business intelligence system for data analytics and an adaptive learning module;
  • Update the App to meet WHO’s global clinical guidelines;
  • Implementation of the App in a minimum of 10 countries;
  • Customized and translated country versions of the App (currently available in English, French, Lao and Oromifa versions), and
  • Development of Maternity Foundation’s Competency Center to support global learning amongst implementing partners and capture results and data to consolidate evidence-based best practice.

In 2016, Maternity Foundation made a commitment with UN’s Every Woman Every Child movement to reach 20.000 health workers with The Safe Delivery App before the end of 2018 – thereby promoting a safer birth for up to 2 million women.

For more information, please contact Lise Knudsen, Communications Manager at Maternity Foundation at lknu@maternity.dk.

*MSD for Mothers is MSD’s 10-year, $500 million initiative to help create a world where no woman dies giving life. MSD for Mothers is an initiative of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A, acting through its MSD affiliate, Healthcare Services and Solutions (HSS).