Infant mortality is a stunning issue in developing countries. The World Health Organization  says that “three quarters of all newborn deaths occur in the first week of life, and every year nearly 40% of all under-five child deaths are among newborn infants, babies in their first 28 days of life or the neonatal period.” (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs333/en/) The link to countries with little or low access to healthcare and the high figures of infant mortality are tied to three important considerations where creativity and problem solving play an important role.

The first consideration is access to health care, including education about pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal delivery. “The majority of all neonatal deaths (75%) occur during the first week of life, and between 25% to 45% occur within the first 24 hours.”http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs333/en/ The metrics present a compelling picture where  80% of these deaths are related to issues where prevention and education  play a big role in altering these statistics.  Prematurity, low birth weight, infections and lack of oxygen at birth are included in the causes of 80% of infant deaths. So, how does creativity play a role in helping to solve this problem?

The first step is in looking at the problem within the context of community and culture. Many of the rural areas in which high infant mortality rates occur, have particular belief structures and  gender issues that do not empower women to take charge of their own care during pregnancy and childbirth. There is also the issue of access and lack of equipment in health care facilities.  One prevention strategy is to provide skilled health care at home. “ Up to two thirds of newborn deaths could be prevented if skilled health workers perform effective health measures at birth and during the first week of life.” (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs333/en/)

One innovative means of employing creative people in solutions for high infant mortality rates, is a project called, “The Maker Movement.” This project is addressing the financial and physical barriers and the lack of adequate equipment and facilities by employing makers, inventors, biomedical engineers and local makers to create local solutions to the physical barriers of health care. The project was initiated  by idea generating workshops which focused on solutions to these problems. Included were local business people, community women and tribal leaders and service providers  in Malawi, India. By engaging the local community, and embracing the idea that creative solutions can be generated with a diverse group of creative people, the MNCH equipment gaps are being resolved in low cost, systematic way.

The Maker Movement is changing policy in Kenya, Africa. “Maker pilot may revolutionize how health facilities source, maintain and repair MNCH equipment in Kenya.” (http://innovationsformnch.org/uploads/publications/2013_Project_Brief_Maker.pdf

Innovations , an initiative that addresses maternal and infant mortality in countries like Ghana, India, Malawi,  Kenya and Sierra Leone, is using a creative model for implementing creative solutions  to understand the physical and financial barriers that prevent  health care services from reaching women and children. Perhaps this approach could be adopted in the United States in rural areas where the same issues need to be addressed.

 

 

References

Innovations for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health. (n.d.). Innovations for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health. Retrieved February 9, 2014, from http://innovationsformnch.org/finding-what-works/using-makers-to-address-mnch-equipment-needs

Newborns: reducing mortality. (n.d.). WHO. Retrieved February 9, 2014, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs333/en/

Women on the Front Lines of Care: Seven Ways to Show We Care. (n.d.). Vital Blog. Retrieved February 9, 2014, from http://www.intrahealth.org/blog/women-front-lines-care-seven-ways-show-we-care#.UveoCIWoS9U

Women on the Front Lines of Care: Seven Ways to Show We Care. (n.d.). Vital Blog. Retrieved February 9, 2014, from http://www.intrahealth.org/blog/women-front-lines-care-seven-ways-show-we-care#.UveoCIWoS9U