Safe Motherhood Alliance was established with the goal to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates through improved quality of care at time of childbirth, our vision is to prevent deadly and debilitating infections for over 20 million pregnant women across the sub-Saharan region with no access to maternal healthcare by giving them increased access to a clean, safe delivery and a healthy start for their newborns. We have developed an innovative low-cost US$5.00 baby delivery kit using appropriate technology which contains all the essential tools recommended by WHO targeted at pregnant women in low-income communities and rural areas designed to meet their unique needs in resource poor settings ensuring safe and sterile conditions at the time of childbirth. Cost is a barrier to the women in our target area and the baby delivery kit has been subsidized for our target market because the items are mandatory for the pregnant women to be allowed to give birth from a public hospital.
In Zambia and most parts of sub-Saharan Africa pregnant women attend monthly or weekly antenatal clinic visits or ANC as it is commonly known at a public hospital where her vitals are taken and the baby’s growth is observed. It is during these ANC sessions that she is given a list given a list of mandatory items to bring for her childbirth (because the hospital cannot provide them) so she has to provide them or she will be sent back and forced to seek alternative methods to give birth usually from home using unsterile materials. 53 % of women in Zambia still give birth at home using the services of unskilled birth attendants, hence the need for safe conditions and appropriate interventions that will contribute to the reduction of risks of complications that may pose a danger to the mother and baby. There is a need to implement targeted evidence-based interventions to ensure no woman dies while giving birth and each child should be given a chance to grow and survive into adulthood. It is for this reason that we want to ensure that those that deliver at home also have access to birth kits and that it provides the training of the traditional birth attendants (TBAs) thus ensuring safer services of skilled birth attendants. Each baby delivery kit contains eight items as per requisite from the Ministry of Health and WHO these include, surgical blade, pairs of sterile gloves, sanitary pads, cotton wool, umbilical clamps, delivery mat, a bottle of disinfectant and a pictogram with step-by-step instructions on how to use the kit and emergencies to be aware of like PPH. While the items in the kits may seem very basic, they are mostly foreign to the mothers who receive the kits and in this instance are the difference between life and death for pregnant women and their newborns.
During our pilot program we observed that the clinics/hospitals do not have adequate supplies of these items for the maternity department and so they instruct the pregnant women to supply them on their own or risk being turned away in an event the she goes into labor and comes to the hospital without them. Our strong proof of concept promotes clean births to implement safe birth practices and achieve critical health outcomes set by the global health community as results from our pilot showed remarkable changes in the lives of our target population with improved quality of care at the time of childbirth. Our impact towards ending extreme poverty is the Net Additional Value we provide for our direct beneficiaries who are pregnant women, by training traditional birth attendants to become our distribution agents we provide an untapped market with access to life-saving products. We have distributed 50,000 baby delivery kits in the last four years since our inception. The cost of the items in the kit if bought separately to enable pregnant women to access maternal care at a public health facility, would cost between US$30 – US$50 (the price varies from geographic locations, the more rural the more expensive the items will cost due to transport etc) if average price taken is US$30, then we are able to save US$25 impacting the lives of our beneficiaries directly.
We provide training and education to community healthcare workers, traditional birth attendants and midwives to assure proper adoption and implementation of the baby delivery kits in the country and work with underemployed women, who are usually the traditional birth attendants, in the communities and they serve as advocates of safe birth practices after we have trained them. They then become our distribution agents earning 1% off every baby delivery kit that they distribute thereby economically empowering them. The baby delivery kit is designed to be distributed and used by traditional birth attendants (trained by our organization), health facilities in low-resource settings, family members or in an emergency they can be used by pregnant woman who give birth unassisted in the home. Traditional birth attendants are trained and oriented to the baby delivery kits so they can either provide it as part of their birth delivery services or encourage families to purchase the kit for home deliveries in areas where there are no health facilities, they are also designed to be sold through retail distribution outlets. We believe that by getting the right tools and approaches to communities everywhere, we’re giving more mothers and babies the chance to thrive regardless of where they are born or where they live.
Organizations have worked with different versions of clean births projects but these efforts remain largely ineffective, expensive, and unsustainable because they depend on grants, wrong target market, and lack efficient access to resource-poor markets. We have unique understanding of and access to the Zambian health and regional market, and a sustainable source of revenue scaled via repeat sales to health institutions. Our organization also leverage existing channels/systems by working directly with the Ministry of Health, involving local communities in supply chains, and training women from poor communities to function as frontline health workers. We distribute essential kit supplies and other healthcare products such as locally manufactured sanitary pads in their catchment geographies (made from banana fiber which is usually discarded as a waste product in banana plantations), this has reduced complaints of abdominal pain previously caused by unclean materials such as the dirty rags used for padding. Our business models help decentralize healthcare, improve referral linkages, leverage local resources, and above all, generate employment and build capacities.