The International Maternal Newborn Health Conference 2023
In the realm of maternal and neonatal health, the International Maternal Newborn Health Conference (IMNHC) 2023 is an important platform for advancing solutions and accelerating progress. This year, IMNHC was held in Cape Town, South Africa, after a hiatus of over eight years. The global gathering brought together over 1,700 stakeholders from around the world, united in their mission to improve maternal and newborn survival rates, prevent stillbirths, and achieve the ambitious targets described in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Key Takeaways from Maternova
Maternova representatives – Dr. Gabriela Salvador and I participated in the conference to bridge the gap between stakeholders, facilitate dialogue, and drive scalable innovations. Below are my main takeaways from the conference with regards to maternal mortality:
Maternal Mortality Rates declined until 2015 but have since remained stagnant.
During the International Maternal Newborn Health Conference in May, maternal mortality was a common thread that weaved through the entirety of the conference. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 800 women died every day during the year 2020 from causes attributable to pregnancy and childbirth, all of which were preventable (1). Moreover, women in both low and lower-middle income countries face disproportionate risk of maternal mortality. In 2020, 95% of maternal deaths occurred in these nations (1). I recall presenters in several sessions highlighting positive progress in lowering the global MMR, particularly during the era of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) from 1990 to 2015. However, many also discussed the saddening reality that reduction in maternal deaths has plateaued over the first five years with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in use. The main SDG pertaining to maternal mortality aims to reduce the global Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) to less than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030 (1). This slowing trend jeopardizes our ability to achieve the SDGs and puts the lives of many women at risk.
Many experts throughout the conference conveyed an understandable degree of alarm regarding the stagnation in the reduction of MMR. This was coupled with a collective understanding of an urgent need to take action to prevent the loss of countless lives.
New motivations to work towards achieving SDG goals have been initiated.
A main result from these discussions at the conference was a call for action from stakeholders, including NGOs, donors, and governments across the world. All stakeholders recognize that when it comes to the goal of drastically reducing the global MMR effectively, collaboration is of the utmost importance. In order to be successful, all major players must work to pool their resources, knowledge, and expertise to address the gaps in health care services that exist from country to country and work to decrease the overall MMR.
Additionally, the creativity and innovation of both the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNHC) and the Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) communities are crucial in this reinvigorated effort to lower the global MMR. Their work in discovering new approaches and devices will allow for the provision of quality healthcare services and reduce maternal deaths worldwide. Postpartum Hemorrhage (PPH), for instance, is a leading and preventable cause of maternal mortality. The condition is experienced by approximately 14 million women and results in around 70,000 deaths across the globe annually (2). Research and development in the realm of MNHC has the ability to develop new methods and products to prevent deaths from PPH.
Innovation is already occurring to reduce preventable maternal deaths.
In some cases, studies have already been published that suggest new approaches to decreasing instances of PPH. A significant highlight in recent research is the E-MOTIVE trial. This study, discussed in detail by Maternova in aprevious blog post, demonstrates how much more effective detection and response to PPH could be with the use of the MOTIVE first response bundle. The E-MOTIVE trial portrays the value of an innovative measurement device, the drape, that can be easily used anywhere in the world. Integration of new products such asobstetric drapes, as well as other devices that allow for monitoring to quickly identify and treat PPH like theMaterna Well Tray (MWT), holds promise for enhancing maternal healthcare globally.
The MWT was initially developed by an OBGYN from South Africa, Dr. Justus Hofmeyer, who focuses specifically on PPH prevention in an area disproportionately impacted by obstetric hemorrhages. The device is affordable, sustainable, and easy to use in any region of the world. It employs a mother-centered design providing for a comfortable and clean postpartum experience. The MWT makes use of early warning technology through objective blood loss measurement that occurs in real time. This eliminates the possibility of approximation errors, enabling fast detection of PPH and reduces the time between identification and treatment, a critical factor in saving a mother’s life.
The exchange of ideas at the IMNHC conference emphasizes the importance of immediate action in an effort to regain traction with the SDG goals and achieve a reduction in global MMR. Collaboration from all groups involved and a focus on innovation to bridge the gaps in quality care will move us towards a future where no woman, regardless of geographical location, will lose her life due to a preventable complication.
The BiliDx is a novel system for diagnosing jaundice. The device uniquely meets the Target Product Profile (TPP) developed as part of the NEST 360 initiative in that it allows blood-based testing at the bedside. This initiative is part of an emerging global consensus in the Every Newborn Action Plan that countries need functional WHO level-2 inpatient units to care for "small and sick newborns."
Now as a next step, we ask what could be done to lower the costs of the implementation of the E-MOTIVE bundle? The most obvious answer is to consider displacing the tens of thousands of disposable plastic drapes with a purpose-built reusable device.
Fortunately one of the obstetricians involved in the E-MOTIVE study, Dr. Justus Hofmeyr, had been innovating around this very issue, designing a tray with wells that could fit under a woman’s buttocks, collect and accurately measure the. blood. This tray, theMaternaWellTraywas conceived as a device that could be sterilized and reused, and is manufactured in South Africa by Umoya.