5 exciting social innovations for the future of women’s health in developing countries

8 March 2016

 As part of our Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day Campaign blog series, Satya Tan writes on social innovations from around the world which are improving women’s health in developing countries.


1) Safe Delivery App


The Safe Delivery app guides health workers in remote areas through some of the complications of childbirth. Photograph:
The Safe Delivery app guides health workers in remote areas through some of the complications of childbirth. Photograph:

The Safe Delivery App was created by the Maternity Foundation, University of Southern Denmark and the University of Copenhagen. Targeted at birth attendants in rural and hard to reach areas who may not have had thorough or up to date maternal health training, yet have to deliver births, this app provides clear instructions for the process of delivering complicated births.

The app is currently mainly image-based and aims to use local languages in the future with the help of national governments and NGOs. Since it contains training videos and quizzes as well as step by step instructions in case of an emergency, it can be used both as a training and life-saving tool.

Complicated births can be fatal for both mother and child unless the birth attendant has the knowledge to deal with them; these complications include obstructed labour which can result in labour going on for days and creating further health issues such as fistula.



2) Sanitary pad creation


In India, menstruation is still a taboo topic. This, along with the lack of cheap sanitary products, leads to very unhygienic practices during menstruation which can lead to reproductive tract infections. Women use dirty rags or even 88% of women in India are forced to measures such as using ashes, newspaper and dried leaves during their period. A study shows that only 12% of women in India use a sanitary pad.

Murugananathamis with the sanitary pad machine BBC
Murugananathamis with the sanitary pad machine

Indian social entrepreneur, Arunachalam Murugananthamis, has created a low-cost machine to make sanitary pads. Not only is this a fantastic method to lower the risk of infection because it makes sanitary pads affordable, but it also offers employment opportunities to women as Murugananathamis sells these machines to rural women through the support of bank loans and non-for-profit organisations. A further three women are normally employed to distribute the sanitary pads. Read more about his story here.



3) Nonpneumatic Antishock Garment

PATH/Patrick McKern
PATH/Patrick McKern


Every 4 minutes, a woman dies from obstetric haemorrhage – when a woman bleeds heavily after giving birth. For this reason, it is the leading cause of maternal mortality.

A woman can bleed to death in two hours or less, so when haemorrhaging starts, medical intervention needs be put in place as quickly as possible. Therefore in rural areas where hospital facilities are days away, women are at high risk of bleeding to death.

However, the Nonpneumatic Antishock Garment is designed to decrease blood loss and recover women from shock. It can be worn whilst waiting for medical treatment and controls the bleeding. The garment has been designed to be used during abdominal or vaginal surgery.

Moreover, it can be used after a single training session and can therefore be easily used by Community Health Workers in areas far from hospitals and clinics who do not often receive

every 4 mins



4) RapidSMS

RapidSMS was originally created by UNICEF’s innovation unit in 2007 and helps to combat slow data collection and effective work in healthcare despite geographical remoteness of many healthcare workers who work in rural areas. It is particularly useful in countries such as Malawi, where the project has been piloted – there, healthcare workers in rural health centres often have to wait up to eight months to receive the results of a test.

RapidSMS is system which provides a quick way to capture and record data without having to rely on paper methods. It uses the internet and uploads patient data when the phone has internet access, therefore cutting down on time spent manually searching for patient information or keeping records updated. In time-sensitive situations, this can make the difference between life and death.

For mothers, it means that their pregnancy can be monitored closely and all danger signs are reported; there is an improved chance of mothers receiving the antenatal care needed to eliminate the risks of preventable complications during pregnancy and childbirth, therefore reducing maternal and child mortality. Community health workers have easy and updated access to patient records making healthcare interventions in rural communities easier to monitor and administer.

Since its conception, RapidSMS has gone on to track child malnutrition and disabilities, ensuring that children can get the healthcare they need.




5) ‘Khushi Baby’ Necklace


This innovative necklace
contains a child’s vaccination records as well as a mother’s health records in a chip that is kept in a necklace which is worn by the child. The chip ensures that a child’s health records are kept up to date, as the chip communicates with health workers’ smartphones and tablets; it also reminds the family when the next immunisation is due as the chip contains data which, according to the Khushi Baby website, is ‘real time and actionable’.


So far, it has been tested in India, where the vaccination rate is under 60% – one of the lowest in the world. In some parts of India, children already wear necklaces for cultural reasons which look like these, so it has been easy to integrate into the communities. The results are already proving successful with approximately 1,500 babies in the system; the initial data is already showing improved vaccination rates.


Technology such as this will help to tackle the surmountable statistic of 1.5 million children dying every year from diseases that could be prevented through vaccination.

Read more about the necklace here.vaccination




Please consider donating £5 to HART’s work which could provide life-saving equipment and healthcare to mums worldwide. Text MUMS05 £5 to 70070 today to donate £5 or donate through the website:

Read the rest of our Mother’s Day Campaign series here!


Disclaimer: This blog is a space for discussion and personal reflection. Any opinions expressed within the blog are those of the author and are not necessarily held by HART. Individual authors are responsible for the accuracy of statements made within the blog.


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