World Changing Idea: Providing high-risk pregnancy toolkit

Mother and childcare is a key focus of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, and at the heart of what both Philips and the International Committee of the Red Cross do every day.

Up to 20% of pregnancies worldwide are estimated to be ‘at-risk’, with 99% of the resulting maternal deaths occurring in developing countries. Higher than average maternal mortality rates are also experienced in fragile communities, such as those ravaged by natural disaster or war, or where access to healthcare is difficult. With limited resources available in these areas, healthcare solutions need to be simple, easy-to-use, educative, attuned to cultural norms and importantly not be dependent on electricity or batteries.

 

Sponsored by the Philips Foundation, a registered charity and based on the needs of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), a pregnancy toolkit was developed aimed for early detection and referral of high-risk pregnancies in fragile communities with limited access to healthcare.

“Together we engaged in an entirely complementary design process where Philips brought the expertise in project and product design, and the ICRC brought the needs and expertise from the field. ICRC midwives from contexts across Africa worked with Philips to develop relevant and functional products, which meet the needs of the women they are destined towards and are adapted to their contextual and social realities” said Stephane du Mortier, head of ICRC’s primary health care services unit.

 

The Philips High-Risk Pregnancy Toolkit is announced as a “Developing-World” and “Health” categories finalist in the Fast Company - World Changing Ideas awards.

Higher than average maternal mortality rates are also experienced in fragile communities, such as those ravaged by natural disaster or war, or where access to healthcare is difficult.

The toolkit

A durable dual-function carry bag containing a pocket-sized waterproof and tear-proof set of cards, which doubles as a teaching aid. The pictures represented on each card are already being tested in 5 ICRC-supported health centers in Africa, and a French-language version and versions specifically designed for more conservative communities are planned for later this year.
Heart for 2 ’ device, a double heads, battery free, fetoscope (fetal stethoscope) that support the training of assistant midwives and traditional birth attendants in finding and listening to fetal heart beats for timely referral pregnancies at risk. The pregnant woman and the healthcare worker can listen the fetal heartbeat simultaneously, improving the experience of antenatal care visits. The device can be used between a layer of very thin clothing to accommodate cultures that would prefer not to show bare skin. Prototypes of the fetoscope are planned for future field tests by the ICRC.
“Innovation doesn’t have to be high-tech to make a meaningful difference to people’s lives, but it does need to be developed collaboratively by experts who know and care about what matters most – understanding the needs of the people they are trying to help,” said Sean Carney, Chief Designer Officer at Philips. That’s why Philips and the Philips Foundation supported a key need identified by the ICRC in countries affected by war and violence. Leveraging the key insights of healthcare professionals on the ground in Africa, we co-created a solution that will help to identify pregnancies that pose a risk to mother and baby so they can be referred to a medical center.”