ADRA International Project Selected as Finalist at Gates Foundation Showcase
Friday, July 27, 2012
By Christina Zaiback
ADRA International was one of over 65 finalists selected to present at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington earlier this month. Not a stranger to meeting the health-focused needs of developing countries, the Gates Foundation collaborated with ‘The Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development’ partnership who called upon organizations with expertise in the field of maternal and newborn health.
With an initial pool of over 500 submissions from almost 60 countries that presented innovative ideas across three domains science and technology, service delivery, and ways to stimulate demand for healthcare services at the time of birth the submitting organizations and their ideas was narrowed down to the finalists. Among these finalists was ADRA International’s project of connecting mothers in Rwanda to healthcare facilities in order to increase and improve the delivery of care to pregnant women. The method uses easy-to-use short message service (SMS), while providing a new low-cost ambulance transport system.
In developing countries, such as Rwanda, only 35 percent of women receive the four pre-birth check-ups recommended. This is often due to either lack of awareness, or no means of transportation. ADRA’s model would use SMS to send notifications to mothers, reminding them to visit their antenatal care appointments. In addition, mothers can send basic text messages to a readily available ambulance system when they are showing signs of labor and are ready to give birth.
“There is an already existing one-way messaging system currently in place in Rwanda,” shared Laura Byre, Senior Health and Nutrition Advisor for ADRA International. “ADRA proposed to build on that system, which included a group SMS feature, where messages can be sent to multiple people, including pregnant women, ambulance drivers, community healthcare workers, and health facilities.”
In under-developed countries, especially those with many rural areas, the lack of transportation to a health facility often goes unaddressed due to poor road conditions, lack of financial resources, and lack of communication methods. “ADRA would build upon the already existing transport system, and integrate that system with our SMS communication service,” Brye said. “This will greatly minimize complications of pregnancies by ensuring mothers are reaching a healthcare facility.”
While ADRA International did not win one of the $250,000 initial seed grants, it was a great recognition to be among candidates such as Save the Children Federation, The Johns Hopkins University, and World Health Organization.
“It is significant accomplishment that ADRA was amongst the finalists, because we (ADRA) were competing against organizations that have been addressing this problem for years,” Byre said. “We plan to participate in more programs such as these in the future, not only for potential funding, but it’s also a great opportunity to highlight the many ways ADRA is making a difference around the world.”