Q&A: The Potential of Technology to Transform Maternal and Newborn Health in the Developing World

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The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) Expert Q&A – Part of the Center for Health and Aging’s Impact & Innovation Series

How can technology potentially transform the field of maternal and newborn health (MNH)? A 2010 Pacific Health Summit plenary session, “Technologies for MNH: Innovation, Creation, and Delivery,” proved an exceptionally rich discussion about the creativity of, and potential for, modern technologies to transform maternal and newborn healthcare in developing countries.

Tina Sharkey, Chairman &
Global President, BabyCenter

The session explored ideas and challenges from the wide variety of perspectives found among a diverse group of high-level stakeholders. Participants hailed from science, industry, policy, academia, and medicine, sectors that do not often coalesce around the theme of maternal and newborn health. 

Key questions addressed in this session included: What do we mean by “creative technologies” for MNH? What innovations already exist, and what innovations do we still need? What business models can deliver these technologies, and what lessons can be learned from other consumer-driven sectors? What special design issues should be considered in developing new products so that they reach those at the edges of health systems? 

The discussion catalyzed fresh thinking about the scalability of existing technologies, health worker capacity and training, and the role of telecommunications and user- riented systems in affecting behavioral change in a variety of settings. It also emphasized the need for the healthcare industry to demonstrate how they will make their skills and technology relevant to everyone in the world—not only for emerging markets, but also for those at the peripheries of the poorest countries.

Read the Q&A discussion, presenting excerpts from this unique gathering.  

  • In what areas of MNH are new technologies needed, and what are some examples of "creative technologies" for MNH in Asia?

  • What challenges does industry face when entering lower-resource markets and how do pricing and affordability come into play?

  • What lessons can the public sector learn from consumer-driven industries to bolster delivery of critical MNH innovations?

NBR Workshop Q&A: The Potential of Technology to Transform Maternal and Newborn Health

Peter Singer, CEO, Grand Challenges Canada

The discussion originally took place at a workshop of the 2010 Pacific Health Summit on Maternal and Newborn Health. Learn more about NBR’s Impact & Innovation Series.

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