Case Study

Program Advisory for Maternal Health

How can improved practices around pregnancy, childbirth, and early infant care prevent millions of needless deaths?

Concern_Africa_India_map

Most causes of maternal and infant mortality today are preventable. But while modern medicine has the knowledge and tools to save lives, other barriers prevent critical health treatments from reaching millions of women and babies.

With the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Concern Worldwide set out to accelerate the discovery and testing of creative solutions to overcome the social and institutional barriers to care. After soliciting ideas from target beneficiaries through open-call competitions, Concern asked for Reboot’s support in developing the ideas into actionable programmatic concepts.

Through a targeted, iterative incubation process, and in close consultation with key stakeholders, beneficiaries, and experts, we developed ten concepts to address the continuum of health challenges that mothers and infants face. Five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are currently implementing several of these concepts in collaboration with UNICEF and each country’s Ministry of Health. 

In many parts of the world, social and institutional barriers prevent vulnerable people from accessing critical, life-saving care. Millions of preventable deaths occur every year, perhaps most tragically amongst mothers and infants less than one month old.

Concern Worldwide had undertaken initial research to identify these barriers, with a focus on marginalized populations and unheard voices. The organization identified a number of complex challenges, including the significant chasms between formal and informal health care providers. In the target contexts, women use informal providers almost exclusively, both because of cultural precedence and because of limited access to formal care. The poor quality of care offered by overworked health care providers, blockages by “gatekeepers to health” with beliefs at odds with modern medicine, and the physical distance to health services were also key challenges.

To address these issues, Concern solicited ideas from target beneficiaries through open-call competitions in three initial focus countries: India, Malawi, and Sierra Leone. While the winning suggestions showed promise, they required further validation, design, and refinement to ensure they could achieve their potential. Concern engaged Reboot’s support to iterate and incubate the ideas, in consultation with both local beneficiaries and global experts, to develop actionable, programmatic concepts.

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